Cleaning Out The Bookshelf

IMG_0792We are lucky to have awesome wooden shelves in our apartment that we purchased from the last tenant. They are made from really beautiful wood and frame our (nonworking) fireplace and TV. They hold all of our books, treasures, and photographs. I’ve been in the market for a new book after reading Modern Lovers by Emma Straub. Lately I’ve shelled out a lot at the bookstore.  In the interest of saving money, I’m picking up books on the shelf that I haven’t read. We all know what happens. You buy a ton of books and one goes by the wayside, pushed down on the “To Read” pile by other newer, more exciting books. Or your friend swaps you a few books. You’re excited to read what they’ve given you, but somehow you never pick them up. Or, and I’m guilty of this, you start a book and lose interest. Its sad fate seems to be it will never be read!

Now’s the time for a bookshelf cleaning: Read books you already have and never finished or never got around to. Keep Reading…

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Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.

FullSizeRenderEveryone has heard the quote by Michael Pollan from In Defense of Food. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.” This may be the most over-quoted line in cookbooks today—but, hey, it’s sage advice. Over the past year or so, I started learning more about food production in the United States. Last July, I  attended a reading by Megan Kimble at Word Bookstore in Jersey City. She read from her debut book Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food. In it, Megan uncovers what we mean by “processed”—discovering just how many foods require a surprising amount of energy and resources to get on the table. Living in the city of Tucson on a graduate-student budget, Megan ground her own wheat, joined a CSA, and witnessed the realities of meat production up close, even helping to slaughter a sheep. Some of her experiences were eye-opening (visiting a dairy farm), some changes were tedious (all that work for some chocolate?), other changes were easier to make once she learned how (making oat milk).  Each chapter ends with an “Unprocess Yourself” box that will help get you started if you want to try to eat more sustainably. Unprocessed is a great starting point for anyone really, but especially for those who say they don’t have the time or money to eat more healthy, whole foods.

Here are a few other books that are required reading for newbie foodies.

  1. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I read an excerpt from this book in college, but I didn’t read the whole thing until recently. Kingsolver takes readers along as she and her family move from Arizona to a farmhouse in the Appalachian Mountains where they grow their own food. With boxed text about the food industry and commentary and recipes from Kingsolver’s college-age daughter, this book is an insightful look at a family sustaining themselves on the land, season by season.
  2. In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan. Michael Pollan is considered an expert on food production and the American diet for a reason. This book is extremely readable. If you’re confused as you try to reconcile the food pyramid you learned in high school with what you find in the supermarket, this book gives straightforward guidelines on what to eat.
  3. The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food by Dan Barber. The chef behind New York City’s Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns examines the farm-to-table movement. From the farmer who considers the nutrients in his carrots to the chef creating a menu based on locally available food sources—Barber recognize the need for a paradigm shift in America’s food culture and system.

What are your favorite books on food sustainability?

 

I’m Back!

It’s been a year since I last posted on Skyline Book Reviews. I started this blog for a few reasons. First, I had been a freelance book reviewer for over three years at the time. I was a little tired of being assigned books. I wanted to choose the books I reviewed and stay up-to-date on newly published books. I had been working in textbook publishing and book reviewing was my connection to trade publishing. It was something I hoped would someday help me make a transition. It did. A year ago I joined a nonfiction trade publisher as an editor. I was so busy working long hours and getting comfortable with the job that I gave up book reviewing and took a break from this blog.

Now, I’m on the hunt for a new opportunity. And it seems this is as good a time as any to restart this blog. So look forward to more book reviews and more content coming soon!

INVISIBLE CITY by Julia Dahl

Courtesy of Minotaur Books

Courtesy of Minotaur Books

Invisible City is about a journalist who discovers her family history by delving into the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community where her mother grew up. But Rebekah Roberts doesn’t start out looking for her past.  She is covering the news of a Hasidic woman’s murder, a tragedy that the private Brooklyn community would rather keep to themselves. Julia Dahl’s novel is supported by her knowledge of working in newspapers as well as her research of the Hasidim living in Brooklyn. Rebekah is straddling both worlds–on the one hand she wants to investigate this murder that is seemingly being swept under the rug, but in the process she is reminded of why her Jewish mother left her and her father, to return to the Orthodox way of life.

 

5 Reason to Read:

  1. Invisible City gives a small but compelling glimpse into the lives of the Hasidic women who care for their children, are devoutly religious, and have few opportunities.
  2. The details of working as a stringer as Rebekah Roberts does ring true–the waiting, the uncertainty, seeing your byline on a story you investigated but didn’t write–Dahl captures this well.
  3. Rebekah struggles with anxiety and depression while working on a  story that could make or break her career–she is a character who is real and flawed.
  4. You’ll learn a lot from reading this book, whether about journalism or Judaism. It is clear this is a well-researched novel.
  5. This is one of those mysteries that barrels along with such a force you’ll have to hold on, but at the same time it is perfectly paced and carefully written with great precision.

Keep reading…

FRENCH COAST by Anita Hughes

french coast

Courtesy of St. Martin’s Griffin

I have been reading a lot but not making the time to sit down and write.  But after flying through this delicious read by Anita Hughes, I felt like I had to share the warmth, class, and love found in French Coast.  I would love for my next big trip to be to the Cote d’Azur and this book transported me to Cannes. When I started this blog, I wanted to provide recommendations for different types of readers like The Ambitious Reader, The Happy-Go-Lucky Reader, and The Escape Artist.  This book delivers for both The Happy-Go-Lucky Reader and The Escape Artist.  Besides the sexy love scenes, designer duds, and pristine locale, French Coast also tells intricate stories of the resiliency of love and their surprising intersections.

 

Five Reasons to Read:

  1.  Anita Hughes knows the way to a girls’ heart–Vogue, Givenchy, and Moet & Chandon.  When Vogue features editor Serena Woods goes to Cannes to interview former French Vogue editor Yvette Renault you’re in for all things fashion and French.
  2. Serena is surrounded by beauty while things keep falling apart for her, but she is always looking out for her new friend Zoe, daughter of an Australian fashion magnate, and putting others first.
  3. As Serena interviews Yvette, we’re propelled back into the sixties when Yvette was a young mother in an unhappy marriage.  Her story is told with gritting honesty and poise.
  4. If you like a sexy beach read, you can’t go wrong with this book. But it has enough intrigue to keep you from getting bored.
  5. When the prose gets repetitive, Hughes digs deeper and provides more drama, more decisions for Serena, and more secrets are revealed.

Keep reading…

A DARK AND TWISTED TIDE by Sharon Bolton

a dark and twisted tide

Courtesy of Macmillan

One of the best things about mysteries, in my opinion, is how they immerse you in the thick of a plot and pull you along.  All the details come together to reveal the stark reality, however gruesome it may be.  Sharon Bolton’s novel A Dark and Twisted Tide follows Lacey Flint, former London detective who rejoins the police force on the marine unit.  She is living in a boat on the river Thames and swimming in the river every morning, a dangerous and thrilling pastime.  The river is a powerful force and when Lacey finds a body in the water the question becomes: Was it purely a coincidence that a body comes floating towards Lacey or did someone want Lacey to find the decomposing body?

 

5 Reasons to Read:

  1. Lacey is a classic loner  with few friends, but people are drawn to her–even killers–and you will be too.
  2. The Thames is a charismatic and deadly character in this Lacey Flint installment–its dark waters are the perfect backdrop.
  3. Although all written in the third person, Bolton tells the story from the perspective of Lacey, Detective Inspector Dana Tulloch, and other more mysterious points of view like The Killer, The Swimmer, and Nadia and Pari, two women far from home. This allows for Bolton to reveal a wide range of details and events in a complex, but systematic way.
  4. Bolton’s prose is at times unhurried and expressive, at other times swift and vigorous, much like the tides.  Either way, you’ll be swept away by her writing.
  5. This is a book to savor and reread–even once the murderer is revealed you’ll want to go back and unravel the intricacies of the story.

Keep reading…

INSPIRALIZED Debuts

roof inspiralizedWell, folks, it’s official.  I cut myself while cleaning Blade A yesterday. For those of you who spiralize, you know that Blade A makes ribbon-like veggie noodles.  Besides cutting myself, my busy day ended with the Deconstructed Zucchini Manicotti from the Inspiralized cookbook.  Late last year I received an ARC (Advance Reader’s Copy) of Inspiralized.   In January I reviewed Ali Maffucci’s cookbook on the blog and even interviewed her (read the post here!) .  When the cookbook debuted last week, I knew my black and white ARC wouldn’t cut it.  And I’m so glad I purchased the published book! There are additional recipes that weren’t in the ARC and the full-color photos are stunning.  Here I am, enjoying the weather last weekend with my very own copy of Inspiralized.  Check out all that Ali has going on at Inspiralized.com including the release of her very own branded Inspiralizer!

Read my interview with Ali and post about Inspiralized –> here!