Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nonfiction November - Week Four

Click on the icon for an introduction to Nonfiction November.
Click here to link up to Week 4.

Week 4: New to my TBR:
It's been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book!

I've added four items to my TBR pile this month because of Nonfiction November alone.

I added Serving Victoria on Andi's suggestion and America's Queen on Bookmammal's suggestion.

The Hare with Amber Eyes and The Last Lion box set were suggested by readers who commented on my World War II expert post. There were lots of great suggestions given in response to that post.
It's been a great month of nonfiction camaraderie. Although I didn't get a whole lot of reading done this month, I still feel energized by all the nonfiction possibilities swirling around in my head.
Thanks to Kim, Leslie, Rebecca, and Katie for hosting!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Top Ten Tuesdays (Winter 2014 TBR)
Click to link up!
This week's topic:  Top Ten (or Eleven...) Books on My Winter TBR List
These quarterly TBR lists are such pie in the sky for me! I read only three of the books on my fall TBR. I read what catches my fancy or fits my mood at the time I'm ready for a new book. And I often choose the newest book on the pile. So, take this list with a grain of salt!

Serving Victoria,  Kate Hubbard

No Ordinary Time, Doris Kearns Goodwin

41, George W. Bush

Novel Interiors, Lisa Borgnes Giramonti, Ivan Terestchenko (Photos)

A Royal Experiment, Janice Hadlow

When Books Went to War, Molly Guptill Manning

Easy Chinese Recipes ,Bee Yinn Low

In the Garden of Beasts,  Erik Larson

Hellhound on His Trail, Hampton Sides

The Patriarch, David Nasaw

The President Is a Sick Man, Matthew Algeo


Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Finds (Nov. 21)
Hosted by MizB. Click on the picture to link up!
It's been such a busy, frenzied week here, I haven't had much time for trolling for new books. Not like I need more options! My shelves are full of options. It's reading time I need.
I thoroughly enjoy Trisha Yearwood's cooking show on the Food Network. In fact, I enjoy her more as a cook than as a singer. And she's hilarious. So is her husband, Garth Brooks, whom she calls Gartha Stewart in the kitchen. I have one of her previous cookbooks and hope to pick up the other as well as Trisha's Table when it's released in April.
And speaking of country music stars who have cookbooks, I didn't even know Martina McBride had one. I love reading cookbooks. I don't always find my way to cooking with them, though. :)
Someone suggested I read The Hare with Amber Eyes since I enjoy World War II era literature, so I've added it to my list. It sounds like a sweeping drama. And I'm kind of a sucker for true sweeping dramas.
That's it for this week.
What have you discovered this week?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Nonfiction November - Week Three
Click on the icon for an introduction to Nonfiction November.
Click here to link up to Week 3.

Week 3: Diversity and Nonfiction:
This week we're talking about what diversity in books means to us. Does it refer to book’s location or subject matter? Or is it the author’s nationality or background? What countries/cultures do you tend to enjoy or read about most in your nonfiction?

Personally, I think we’re doing ourselves and our children a big disservice if we think of diversity in terms or skin color, nationality, gender, religion, political affiliation, or sexual orientation. Likewise, I don’t care if the book I’m reading was written by a Smith or a Huang or a Goldberg. What matters to me is the material presented and the quality of its writing. This does not mean that a Goldberg wouldn’t bring a different worldview to the material; he would. As would a woman or a gay man or a libertarian. This will be a much bigger deal with fiction than nonfiction, as most nonfiction is objective in nature, or clearly labeled if nonobjective. I read mostly nonfiction, so I care very little if a book about the Battle of the Bulge, say, was written by a man or woman, a lesbian or straight person.

That said, diversity of subjects is very important to me. I seek out books on subjects I enjoy (American history; food and cooking; politics & Washington, D. C.; biographies; living abroad) and subjects I know little about (this year I learned about polar exploration, baseball, horse racing, and President Garfield). I just love learning new things. (Even if that statement nominates me for Geek of the Year.) I read a lot of memoirs, and you just can’t get more diversity of life experience than that. I love to read about different cultures, cuisines, parenting styles, families, religions and faith. I read a lot of books about Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, China, France, and England. Many of my favorite books deal with diversity in some way, though I seldom seek out reading material because it’s diverse. I find it and it finds me because that’s who I am and what I enjoy.

Here is a list of my favorite books dealing with diversity of thought, culture, and experience.

My Beloved World, Sonia Sotomayor
Puerto Rican-American Supreme Court Justice’s memoir.
Becoming Sister Wives, The Brown Family
A polygamist Mormon family.
Bloom, Kelle Hampton
A mother’s experience raising a Down Syndrome baby.

Kabul Beauty School, Deborah Rodriguez
An American woman creates a beauty school in Afghanistan.
Extraordinary, Ordinary People, Condoleezza Rice
African-American Secretary of State’s memoir.
French Kids Eat Everything, Karen Le Billon
Raising good eaters—the French way.

Lipstick Jihad, Azadeh Moaveni
An Iranian-American caught between cultures.
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua
Raising children the Chinese way.
Bringing Up Bébé, Pamela Druckerman
Raising children the French way.

The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, Kathleen Flinn
An American woman studying at Le Cordon Bleu in France.
Elizabeth the Queen, Sally Bedell Smith
A biography of the Queen of England.
Little Princes, Conor Grennan
American aid worker recovering trafficked children in Nepal.

Hungry Planet, Faith D’Aluisio & Peter Menzel
Food in world cultures.
Humans of New York, Brandon Stanton
Portraits and short interviews with New Yorkers of all stripes.
Home is a Roof over a Pig, Aminta Arrington
An American family living in China.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Drunk Kitchen, Hannah Hart

My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going with Your Gut

Hannah Hart

Category: “Cookbook”

Synopsis: Hart shares her recipes and tips on living an authentic life.

Date finished: 7 September 2014

Rating: ***

Oh goodness. What to say about this book?

I was unfamiliar with YouTube “cooking” sensation Hannah Hart until this book was about to be released. I was intrigued enough to trip on over to YouTube and see what the fuss was all about. The first video I watched was one where she made Eggplant Parmesan, and it was the only video I watched where the food turned out to be something I would actually eat. Because, frankly, recipes and cooking is not what My Drunk Kitchen (videos or the book) is about. Nor is it really about drinking. Though she does drink and does get alternately buzzed and hammered.

So what is it all about? Well, I’m not exactly sure. I bought the book to find out. It kind of reminds me of a live avant-garde installation. Is it cooking? Yes and no. Is it life advice? Yes and no. Is it a girl trying to find and express herself? Yes. I think this all boils down to a twenty-something lesbian who wants to love and be loved, who wants to cook and…sometimes be baked. Normally, I’m not into that kind of finding-myself-expressing-myself-it’s-all-good-so-let’s-get-a-little-wasted way of life. But I could appreciate this book for that. It seemed genuine.

Some points:
  • Hart did dispense with some good advice—even in this not-twenty-something’s eyes. Each recipe, in addition to having a cocktail recommendation, had a quote by a famous person and a one-liner by Hart. Some of these were quite astute. There were also a few longer essays where Hart delves into her life. She’s a very hopeful person, not angry or bitter for the circumstances of her past.
  • Hart is candid. Perhaps a bit too candid in spots. I squirmed a little.
  • There are a lot of puns. I love puns. I was good with it.
  • There is a whole section dedicated to squirm-worthy ways to initiate adventurous sex. (And since our guide in this is a lesbian, adventurous gay sex is where one’s heterosexual mind is forced to go, of course.) It was pretty embarrassing.
  • I want to try the Pizza Cake recipe. (You bake a bunch of frozen pizzas, layer them, and cut a slice. How unbelievably awesome is that idea? I’m a frozen pizza fan, and I make no apologies.)
  • It might be a very comforting/important book for young gay folks making their way in the world.

In all, the book was a little bit confusing, a little bit unfocused (there were no real “steps” in the “recipes,” for example), and a little bit uncomfortable. At the same time, it was pretty fun. Like visiting a crazy, hyper friend of a friend during your college days and being able to enjoy the evening simply because you knew you’d be able to go back to your own somewhat saner life at the end of the night.  
Would you recommend this to a friend?
The right friend, yes.

You might also enjoy:
I’ve never read anything like it.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Finds (Nov. 14)
Hosted by MizB. Click on the picture to link up!
I thought I had this post all ready and waiting for link up Friday morning, but I guess I skipped the whole "writing of the post" step. So I'll have to be quick here. Though quick, for me, seldom means brief.
Because of all the Nonfiction November action this month, I've stumbled upon some great books--which led to other great books. You know how it is, that whole TBR snowball effect.
(And speaking of snow, we have a great big pile of it, and it's COLD here, which makes me want to do nothing more than hibernate with one of these books.)
On Musings from a Bookmammal this week, I was reminded of America's Queen, called the "definitive" biography of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. I just bought Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis last week, so I'll likely read that first, but I'll be reading this one someday too. "Definitive" will get me every time.
Elizabeth is by the same author as America's Queen, Sarah Bradford. I so enjoyed Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Bedell Smith last year that I'm up for another book about the Queen. (And I'm still looking for something to name Lilibet [the Queen's childhood nickname]. I think a Boston Terrier named Lilibet would be hilarious!)
And speaking of queens, a Nonfiction November post by Andi at Estella's Revenge reminded me of Serving Victoria, which tells what it was like working for Queen Victoria.

I recently saw Tavis Smiley on a news program, and he talked briefly about his new book, Death of a King. While I don't always agree with Smiley's political views, I've read the intro to his book and he seems to have a deep love and respect for Martin Luther King Jr. Though I'm always a bit leery of books subtitled "The Real Story..."
Isaac's Storm is another book by Erik Larson, one that wasn't on my radar at all. I tend to like storm movies and books.
I admire Dr. Ben Carson for many reasons, and I'm told he's soon to announce his candidacy for 2016, so it's time I read his newest book, One Nation. He really is a remarkable man, rising from abject poverty to be one of the best (the best?) pediatric neurosurgeons in the world. What was the beginning for him? His illiterate mother forcing him to read books and write her book reports. Stories were his way out.

I was looking at my long, long book list the other day and was reminded of Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure. I'm sort of a sucker for Truman--he's my kind of people. This is the story of his road trip with Bess after he left office in the early 50s.
Last week I scored a number of great books at a used book store. In the bargain basement, I found a copy of David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize-winning tome Truman for $2.00. I could not pass it up!
Lastly, set to release Dec. 2, When Books Went to War is the story of books being sent to soldiers during World War II. I'm intrigued as to which titles were chosen for the program and all the other nerdy logistics. 
And that's this week's list.
What's on your list?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Nonfiction November - Week Two
Click on the icon for an introduction to Nonfiction November.
Click here to link up to Week 2.

Week 2: Be the Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert
This week we're sharing about a topic we're expert on, want to be expert on, or hope to get expertise from others on. I thought long and hard about what I might be expert in when it comes to reading, and I've decided it will be a long time before I consider myself an expert in anything! (Maybe I'm an expert in dabbling?) But I have always had a love of the World War II era. So this week I'm sharing how I'm becoming an expert in WWII. I'm sharing the books I've read, the book I'm reading, and the books I want to read focusing on this war.
First, what I've read...
I read Prague Winter hoping to understand the Jewish side of the European front in WW2. Written by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the book explores her family's decision to hide their Jewishness as well as giving a history of Czechoslovakia.

Unbroken is destined to become a classic in World War II literature. Telling the story of one remarkable POW in the Pacific theatre, the book explores not only the brutal treatment of American POWs in Japanese hands, but also the resilience of the human spirit.

Bomb is the story of the making of the atomic bomb and its use to end World War II. It's written for the YA audience, but it does not dumb down either the science or intellectual struggle surrounding the bomb's creation or use.

Plus, spies!

Killing Patton is the fourth in Bill O'Reilly and Martin Duggard's "Killing..." series. Here, they investigate the death of General George Patton and point to evidence that the accident that killed him was likely no accident at all. This book deals more with the battles of WWII and the personalities (Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, etc.) than the others on my list. I learned a lot about the war in this book.

What I'm reading now...

The Monuments Men, now made into a motion picture, discusses the efforts of a handful of men (and one woman) who are tasked with the recovery of the world's great works of art, either lost in war or confiscated by Hitler.

What I'm planning to read in the future...

I'm very interested in reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's Pulitzer Prize-winning No Ordinary Time. Dealing with President Franklin Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor, this promises to be a comprehensive look at the Roosevelt family and World War II on the home front.

I also plan to read Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts about American ambassador to Hitler's Germany, William E. Dodd.

Do you have any favorite World War II books? Please share.