Monday, February 20, 2017

What I'm reading this week (2/20/17)

Last week I finished:

Last week I finished my audio-read of Wolf Hollow. This book had been on my TBR since it came out last year. I enjoyed the book. I've seen it compared to To Kill a Mockingbird, but I'd have to say that's true in plot only. It's no To Kill a Mockingbird, but then I think TKaM is one of the finest books in American literature. Wolf Hollow is about Annabelle who lives on a farm with her family during World War II. When a new girl comes to school who bullies Annabelle and others, things escalate a point where truly terrible things happen. This isn't a book about name-calling and kids-will-be-kids bullying. People actually get hurt. People hate. People go on manhunts. People die. It was ally pretty real. I liked the writing, the characters, the strong sense of setting, the moral dilemma Annabelle faces when lying to her parents. What I didn't love about the book was the sense of danger. For the fifth grade and up crowd, there really isn't anything terrible in the book--nothing worse than a mild-ish TV drama, I suppose, but I still enjoy children's books that celebrate the innocence of childhood, not that put a child into an adult situation. My rating: 3.5 stars.

I also finished Michael Booth's Super Sushi Ramen Express. I'm torn about this one. On the one hand, I learned a lot about Japanese food. It's a comprehensive look at everything from ramen to Kobe beef to dashi to sushi and sashimi to soy sauce to tempura. There were also interesting side adventures to places like a restaurant that serves its noodles upstream from a family with chopsticks waiting to pluck them out of the water, sauce them, and eat. We meet sumo wrestlers, talk to MSG moguls, go to a tea ceremony, visit a wasabi farm (did you know wasabi is best grown in running water?), Okinawa to chat with people who enjoy the best longevity on the planet, and lots of other destinations. I marked dozens of facts that I want to captures. But on the other hand, I found the book a little boring. I tend not to like books that take a reader to a different place each chapter, to meet different people, and that set up little interviews for the reader. That sort of drives me bonkers. This was one of those books. I was also a little annoyed by the way the author took what the industry folks said about their various products (such as the MSG folks) as fact without challenge. It seemed a little sloppy. So, I don't know, I learned a lot, but I didn't always enjoy the ride all that much. It's a great book if you want lots of facts about Japanese food and cooking, and especially if you don't mind the kind of travel book that gives you whiplash. My rating: 3 stars.

This week I'll finish:

I think I'll kind of miss Eleanor and Park when I'm done with this book. They're great characters. I just hope this one ends well. I could see it going any number of places, and I'm anxious.

Last week I began:

I finally started my "other" book for the month, House Beautiful Pink. There isn't much text here at all, but it sure is pretty. Perfect book for Valentine's month.

And because I can't go more than a day without having a poetry collection going, I picked up my March choice, Poems That Make Grown Men Cry. It's a collection of short essays by famous men you've never heard of talking about the poem that makes them cry, and the poem, of course, is included. It's arranged chronologically, so I'm still back in the early 1800s, which isn't my preferred era for poetry, but I have hopes of liking it more when we get to the modern poems.

My current audiobook:

I often choose audiobooks to knock off a long book that I wouldn't get to for months otherwise. Belgravia, written by Julian Bellows of Downton Abbey fame, is one of those books. I don't have a good idea of what the book will be about, but I was in the mood for an old, sweeping story, and I think it will be that. 

Next up:

Driving Mr. Albert has been on my TBR for so long that I'd actually sold and bought back the book.
It's about a road trip with Albert Einstein's (literal) brain by the author of The Telling Room (about a cheese road trip in France...or something like that). 

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