Monday, November 12, 2018

Nonfiction November 2018: Let's Eat!

This week's Nonfiction November 2018 topic is Be/Ask/Become the Expert, hosted by JulzReads.  I tend to read nonfiction over a broad range of topics, meaning I'm an expert on nothing, so today I wanted to get your recommendations on a topic I want to read more about - food!

I'm taking inspiration from a book I read earlier this year, Sweet Spot: An Ice Cream Binge Across America by Amy Ettinger.

While I did have some issues with the author's personal opinions and her judgmental tone throughout the book, I liked the idea behind this read: learning about the history of ice cream and various companies, different types of ice cream, things like that.  I'll be honest - I love to eat!  So, here's what I'm looking for: your recommendations for books about food and the food industry.  I'm keeping it a bit broad, so really any of the following would be helpful:

- The history or evolution of different food items or specific companies
- Books about restaurants
- Books about or by your favorite chefs
- Even cookbooks if you feel like they include fun stories besides just recipes

Can't wait to hear your suggestions!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Mini-Reviews: The Hamilton Edition

Most likely inspired by Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical Hamilton storming onto Broadway, it seems like there have been a ton of Alexander Hamilton-related books published in the last couple years.  Even better, some of those have focused on his wife, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton (because we all know that too often the stories of women get overlooked).  I have three Hamilton books on my TBR, so I thought it would be fun to review a couple of them together (and for a really great review of yet another one, see Stephanie at Bookfever's review of My Dear Hamilton).  It's interesting how different authors can take the same characters and basic history and make it seem completely different.  I'll be honest, though - even though I love history, American history has never really been my strong suit, so I can't really speak fully to the historical accuracy of these books.

Alex & Eliza (Alex & Eliza #1) by Melissa de la Cruz (2017)

The first in a series, Alex & Eliza takes a look at the pair's inauspicious first meeting and journey up to the time they marry.

Eliza came across as a very practical, intelligent woman.  She really wanted to help the war effort, and she didn't like the idea of wearing fancy dresses or going to balls when soldiers were freezing and starving.  Even though he's a master of words, Alexander Hamilton was often (kind of adorably) flustered when he was around Eliza.  I liked seeing their relationship from both points of view, and especially how Eliza came around on Alexander after initially not liking him.

Eliza's family is very prominent, but Hamilton comes from practically nothing.  He knows on paper they wouldn't be a good match, and he's determined to better himself, just for her.  Speaking of Eliza's family, her sisters were forces to be reckoned with.  They were very fun side characters, and I liked watching both of them take control of their own lives.

This book had a very lighthearted, sometimes humorous feel.  Even situations that could have been deep or dark never felt that way.  If you're in the mood for a cheerful or fluffy historical fiction novel, you might enjoy this one.  3.5 stars

 I, Eliza Hamilton by Susan Holloway Scott (2017)

Eliza recounts her life with Alexander Hamilton, detailing their courtship and marriage, ending with his untimely death.

Although I enjoyed this book, I can't say I loved it.  The writing was good and very much evoked the time period, but it also felt dense and even dry at times.  Some parts felt like reading a textbook about the American Revolution and aftermath, so if you're really interested in learning all those little details, you'll appreciate this book.

I don't know that this book increased my opinion of either Eliza or Alexander Hamilton.  I don't doubt that he relied on her to listen to and help hone his many ideas, but at the same time, she admits she didn't have much education and could barely write letters to him when apart.  She sometimes came across as naive, boldly stating how happy and fortunate they were, how no two people had ever loved each other more, when there were clearly issues in their life together.  Even when other people try to warn her about things, she never wanted to believe it.  Hamilton, on the other hand, was ambitious almost to a fault.  I admire his desire to create a new working government, but he kind of came across as power-hungry and was so easily offended.  He also clearly kept a lot of secrets from Eliza, including their poor financial situation.  3.5 stars

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Accidental Beauty Queen

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

The Accidental Beauty Queen
Teri Wilson
Expected publication date: December 4, 2018
In this charming romantic comedy perfect for fans of Meg Cabot and Sophie Kinsella, critically acclaimed author Teri Wilson shows us that sometimes being pushed out of your comfort zone leads you to the ultimate prize.

Charlotte Gorman loves her job as an elementary school librarian, and is content to experience life through the pages of her books. Which couldn’t be more opposite from her identical twin sister. Ginny, an Instagram-famous beauty pageant contestant, has been chasing a crown since she was old enough to enunciate the words world peace, and she’s not giving up until she gets the title of Miss American Treasure. And Ginny’s refusing to do it alone this time.

She drags Charlotte to the pageant as a good luck charm, but the winning plan quickly goes awry when Ginny has a terrible, face-altering allergic reaction the night before the pageant, and Charlotte suddenly finds herself in a switcheroo the twins haven’t successfully pulled off in decades.

Woefully unprepared for the glittery world of hair extensions, false eyelashes, and push-up bras, Charlotte is mortified at every unstable step in her sky-high stilettos. But as she discovers there’s more to her fellow contestants than just wanting a sparkly crown, Charlotte realizes she has a whole new motivation for winning. - from Goodreads
A twin switcheroo for fans of Meg Cabot and Sophie Kinsella?  Yes, I'm in for this!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Backlist Books I Want To Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is backlist books I want to read.  I have a bunch of backlist novels on my TBR - the only problem was narrowing it down!





Have you read any of these?

Monday, November 5, 2018

Nonfiction November 2018: Fiction/Nonfiction Book Pairings

This week of Nonfiction November is hosted by Sarah at Sarah's Book Shelves and focuses on fiction/nonfiction book pairings.  I loved this week during last year's event and it really inspired me in my blogging this year.  I've been making a move towards more mini-reviews and I especially like when I can come up with a theme for the books I'm reviewing; fiction/nonfiction pairings went along with this so well!  Here are the pairings I've done:





What do you think of these pairings?

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Month in Review: October 2018

October was so, so busy - it felt like we were running around all month!  We started the month by taking a family vacation to Memphis; we all had a great time and it was nice to be able to spend time together.  Unfortunately, the night before we left for our trip, Tom and I were in a car accident.  We're fine and the other driver was at fault, but my car was pretty banged up, so we had to deal with that right when we got back.  After 10 days in the repair shop, I have my little car back, good as new!

Tom and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary this month, as well as 15 years together. Sometimes it's really hard to believe it's been that long!  Every year we've been trying to stick to the "traditional" anniversary gifts, and the 5th year is wood.  We planted two boxwood bushes in the backyard, and Tom gifted me with a wooden bookmark - so perfect!

My sister and I attended the Morristown Festival of Books for the first time, and we loved it!  So many great authors and we even got to meet one of our favorites, Kate Morton!  In more book news, I finally got up the courage to volunteer with my Friends of the Library group at their annual book sale.  I spent a morning making sure all the displays were fully stocked and neat while customers shopped, and of course I had to grab some books for myself. 

We went to the movies twice and saw Venom (not what I expected) and Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (fun but not as good as the original).  Team Outlaw had a pretty good month in fantasy football and we're now 4-3!  We were tied for first for a week, but now we're back down to the middle of the pack.  And thankfully, we had a lot of trick or treaters on Halloween and gave away most of our candy, so now I won't eat it!

The Books

The Posts and Reviews
The Posts I Loved

Amy at A Magical World of Words lists 5 classic novels you should read, even if you don't like classics

Laura at Boats Against the Current discusses new genres she's discovered

Tracy at Cornerfolds breaks down 5 horror books that actually terrified her

Michelle at Pink Polka Dot Books writes a break-up letter to confusing books 

Sam at We Live and Breathe Books talks retellings

Marie at Drizzle and Hurricane Books lists 10 ways you might be a book blogging cliché

How was your October?  Did you dress up for Halloween?

Friday, November 2, 2018

Backlist Mini-Reviews: Time Travel Romances

I think you guys know by now that I'm a sucker for time travel romances - and I've found two more!

Until We Meet Again by Renee Collins (2015)

Cassandra feels trapped in a high-society town until she meets Lawrence on the beach, but their relationship becomes complicated when they realize they are separated by 90 years.

In 2015, Cassandra is lost: she doesn't know what she wants to do with her life, she has few friends, and she doesn't fit in.  In 1925, Lawrence's life is being planned out for him by his father and uncle, and he's too scared to tell them that he really wants to be a writer.  Through some rip in time, Cassandra and Lawrence meet on the beach of the house they share, decades apart.  Their relationship was a bit insta-lovey, but it worked here.  They find a kindred spirit in each other, and the circumstances under which they meet are rather romantic, so it's forgiven!

I liked the way the author played with the time travel aspect, especially how Cassandra is concerned with changing the future.  When she discovers that Lawrence is supposed to be murdered in just two weeks, she obviously wants to stop it, but she worries that maybe she is the one putting things in motion.  Things got a little tense as the story inched closer to that night, and I worried for Lawrence.  I enjoyed the way the story moved between the two characters' points of view, and they felt very distinct, especially since Collins did a great job creating the 1920s scenes.  The ending was very clever and unexpected.  4 stars 

The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley (2011)

After the death of her sister, Eva Ward travels to Trelowarth, an estate in Cornwall where the sisters spent their childhood summers.  While there, she finds herself inexplicably traveling back and forth to 1715, leaving her wondering where her place really is in the world.

This was my first Susanna Kearsley book and I can confidently say it won't be my last.  I loved Kearsley's writing; it's very elegant and rich without being stuffy, and the gothic, almost melancholy feel comes through strong, especially in the first part of the book.

Eva is an interesting main character.  Even though she is close to the family who lives at Trelowarth (and they are all fabulous characters), she finds herself drawn to the inhabitants of 1715, eventually falling in love with one of the brothers who lives there.  I can't imagine how frustrating it must have been for Eva to not be able to control the time travel; she would disappear and reappear without warning.  I actually wanted a bit more of the romance between Eva and Daniel, which is surprising for me.  The way the author tied in real historical events was interesting, although the pacing of the story felt a bit slow at times.  However, there was an unexpected twist at the end that left me with a huge smile on my face and brought the whole story together.  4.5 stars