Thursday, February 24, 2011

books 2011 #1-4

Eating HeavenEating Heaven by Jennie Shortridge

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maybe 3.5 stars. I liked it more as the book progressed. At the beginning, I couldn't relate to Eleanor very well. Even though we both struggle with food addiction and emotional eating, I thought she was over the top (but maybe not, maybe others could relate better).

As I learned more about her and her relationships, old and new, I started to like her more. I liked the way the author wrote about food and cooking, and I really liked the way she portrayed a woman caring for a dying loved one and grieving. Those emotions rang very true to me.

To sum up: it seems lighter and more frivolous at the beginning than it really turns out to be in the end. Worth sticking it out.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and SweetHotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to this audiobook and really enjoyed it. The characters are memorable and well-developed. It gives some good perspective on the Japanese internment camps in WWII and provided me with some food for thought – I had never thought about what it might be like for the Chinese Americans at that time. There are relationships with depth here, and I like that. There are also a couple of good twists, at least one of which I did not see coming at all.

Memorable quotes:

"He wore his [I Am Chinese] pin like a merit badge of cruelty."

"Perfection is not what families are about."

Overall, beautiful. Good writing, good story, and perhaps the best title I know.

Ride the WindRide the Wind by Lucia St. Clair Robson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a re-read for book club. It held up just as well the second time through.

I never would have picked up this book if it hadn't come highly recommended by my sister. I would have been turned off both by the cheesy cover and by the subject matter. I never thought I was interested in Native American stories, but I was oh so wrong.

There is a lot of brutality in Ride the Wind -- members of the Comanche tribe raid white settlers in Texas and commit unimaginably vile acts. Cynthia Ann Parker is kidnapped at the age of 9. Fortunately for her, she was young enough to be adopted by a Comanche couple. (Her older female relatives became slaves and victims of repeated rape and torture.) But there is also so much beauty, in the way the Comanche imbued every object, every act with meaning; in the way that nothing is wasted, nothing taken for granted; and in the wild freedom that they possessed.

I was utterly fascinated by the fact that 9-year-old Cynthia and her 7-year-old brother had both decided, only four months after being taken from their family, that they would resist rescue if it came. Four months!

As is always the case when I read historical fiction, I found myself wondering: which parts are fiction? which parts are accurate? So I wouldn't mind reading more about Naduah (Cynthia Ann) to try and sort out the details.

Towards the end of the book, we see more of the brutality on the white settlers side. It is heartbreaking to see how they introduced disease to the Native Americans, how they killed off so much of the buffalo, took away their land and utterly changed their whole way of life.

Table of Contents: From Breakfast with Anita Diamant to Dessert with James Patterson - a Generous Helping of Recipes, Writings and Insights from Today's Bestselling AuthorsTable of Contents: From Breakfast with Anita Diamant to Dessert with James Patterson - a Generous Helping of Recipes, Writings and Insights from Today's Bestselling Authors by Gelman Judy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The publisher sent me a copy of this book. The introduction makes a claim that people who love books are foodies as well. I don't know if a general correlation exists, but it is certainly true of me (and food is definitely an integral part of our book club).

I think I may like the idea of this book better than its actual execution. It includes brief author interviews and recipes. Some of the authors are ones I was interested in knowing more about, and some of the recipes look like ones I might want to try. But the author interviews felt thin to me, and honestly, if I'm going to read a cookbook, I'd prefer it to just be a cookbook – and with some food photography, please.

View all my reviews


Susan said...

As always, I'm amazed at the number of books you somehow read, and wonder if there will ever be a time in my life that I have such luxury. I know that you have to make it a priority and squeeze it in, but you do manage to do it.

I'm sure that you know that Ride the Wind was one of Grandma's favorite favorites! You're in good company.

crystal said...

I feel vindicated (validated?) about Ride the Wind! The cover is SO very cheesy, that whenever I recommend it to someone they look at me like I'm crazy.

I think it was on your blog, wasn't it, that I piped in with my opinion about this book? Or was it elsewhere?

crystal said...

(will you critique my book pages? I was trying to think the other day who would be helpful and not just say, "I like it!" and I thought of you.)

Jill said...

You know I have to skim your book posts for fear of having them taint my book views or hamper me with preconceived notions.

rmt said...

I love that you review so many books!
I can't read Ride the Wind...i just can't take the violence, though i am interested in the subject. I'm a wimp, i guess!
I am interested in the others, though. I have wondered about Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. And I agree: such a lovely title.

shannon said...

I am sooo putting Ride the Wind on my "To Read" list...I mean, you gave it 5 stars!! That's endorsement enough for me!

I quite enjoyed On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet for the same reasons as's always interesting to find out about different cultures and time periods...

I'm currently reading The Kitchen House...(slave story). It reminds me of The Help, which I loved! Put this on your list...

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