Review: Mick Jagger by Philip Norman



Mick Jagger
by Philip Norman
Rating: ***
Read: 4/27/2013

Norman gives what appears to be a fairly evenhanded treatment of Jagger’s life to date, though he seems obsessed with the “Mars Bar incident” and refers to it way too many times after initially debunking it. This is a really long book that doesn’t even begin to be exhaustive- Jagger’s life has been so full of women, of song, and of wine (where wine= any mind altering substance) that there’s hardly room to cover half of it. My favorite parts were the chapters concerning the Rolling Stones tours that I have attended. I also found reading about Jagger’s relationship with his kids purely fascinating. Yeah, I’m a fangirl.

It was interesting that it seemed to me that Norman started off with what seemed to me sort of an attitude that was anti-Mick, pro-Marianne, then in the middle of the book he seemed more or less on Mick’s team, but by the end of the book was very pro-Jerry. Um, I sort of sound like E! Weekly, don’t I? The narrator had just the proper poncy British accent which added to my delight.

If you’re a Jagger fan, don’t miss this.

Review: The Ploughman’s Lunch and the Miser’s Feast by Brian Yarvin


The Ploughman’s Lunch and the Miser’s Feast
by Brian Yarvin
Rating: ***
Read 4/26/2013

The photos are beautiful. The food in the photos, on the other hand, doesn’t look so great. I loved the narrative parts but most of the recipes didn’t make me excited. I do want to try the British Baked Beans (I’m a huge fan of beans on toast) and Yarvin made haggis sound seriously delicious. There are some soups I think sound good too, but the real strength of this book is Yarvin’s travelogue/memoir parts. It makes me want to move to Scotland and take day trips then retire to the pub at night for a spot of haggis & a pint. Well worth a look.

Review: Slouching Toward Adulthood by Sally Koslow



Slouching Toward Adulthood
by Sally Koslow
Rating: *
Read 4/26/2013

The cover art was cute. The subtitle, “Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest” made me grin. The first page made me giggle. So I brought it home from the library, little realizing that I was about to embark on strange seas indeed. The kids, or as Koslow painfully calls them, adultescents, in this book are all college-educated. Most are world travelers. I found it hard to work up any empathy, let alone sympathy, for any of the characters in this book. Just not my kind of thing, I guess.

Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benamin Alire Saenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
by Benamin Alire Saenz
Rating: ****
Read 4/25/2013

I struggled with this book much of the way, though I ended up loving it in the end. The story of two boys who get to know themselves through each other is timeless and in this case, anyway, a treat to read. I’m so much more Dante than Ari that it was a little hard to follow Ari’s POV. I have some small quibbles with the brother plot, and I wish we could have at least met the sisters. I really liked the people in this book, especially the parents. I’m glad I read it.

Review: Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss



Salt Sugar Fat
by Michael Moss
Rating: ****
Read 4/24/2013
Processed food sucks. This is a book that made me sadder and angrier than I already was at the monolithic food corporations who are driven by Wall Street. There are some chilling parallels drawn between the tobacco industry and the food industry. Oh, wait. They’re the same company these days. Everybody should read it because it’s so informative about how convenience foods got started and how they’ve evolved in the crucible of the market. I can’t say I approve, but I certainly do understand better now why, when I say, “I have got to have some <insert cheap salty fatty sugary food here> or I will go into withdrawals” how right I actually am.




Review: Pretty Good Number One by Matthew Amster-Burton



Pretty Good Number One
by Matthew Amster-Burton
Rating: ****
Read 4/23/2013

One thing I’ve read over and over is that this is the book that will make you want to go to Tokyo. I don’t want to go to Tokyo, however I really enjoyed reading about Amster-Burton’s adventures there with his family. He’s a funny guy and he has a delightfully unrepentant stance when it comes to food. He’s in it for what he likes, what his daughter likes, and to hell with your idea of what’s fashionable or acceptable or healthy.

I loved hearing about all the interesting foods they had, but even more, I loved reading about Iris’ adventures and how easily she made friends. My absolute favorite thing about the book (and by extension Tokyo) is cat cafes. I want to go to a cat cafe.

I loved the way Amster-Burton evoked the sense of place. His giddy love for Toyko warms my heart. Highly recommended. 4.5 stars.


Review: Wesley the Owl by Stacey O’Brien


Wesley the Owl

by Stacey O’Brien

Rating: *

Read 4/19/2013

I loved the premise inherent in the subtitle, “The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl” and the blurb sucked me in. I checked out the audio version from my library and found the narrator’s voice to be pleasant enough. I was immediately sucked in to the story, only to be spat out again in relatively short order. For someone who works in a lab full of owls, the author seemed unduly surprised about some of the basic facts regarding their characteristics. I have never lived with an owl, so everything I say about this book is from a standpoint of profound ignorance. I really felt like O’Brien anthropomorphized Wesley- not so much when she ascribed reason ┬áto him, but more when she talked about his feelings and emotions. Also, the fact that she called herself ‘Mommy’ when talking to him was nausea-inducing. The writing was not even unexceptional, it was flat out bad. The story meandered all over and was full of discursive asides (which, to be fair, were for me the most interesting bits). I wanted to like this. I expected to like this. I hated it, from about the 3rd chapter on.


Review: Alek by Bodil Bredsdorff



by Bodil Bredsdorff

Rating: ***

Read 4/15/2013

The Crow Cove series ends not with a bang but a soft sigh. The last two paragraphs are maybe the purest, most beautiful prose I’ve ever read. The rest of the book is a little flat, a little mysterious. Probably I would have liked it better had I re-read the first three before I tackled this one- and I certainly recommend that you do that. There are always transcendent moments in Bredsdorff’s books. This is no exception. You will want to eat oranges as you read.


Review: Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler


Growing Up Amish

by Ira Wagler

Rating: *

Read 4/14/2013

Curiously soulless, this memoir left me bewildered. I understood that Ira was unhappy growing up, so much so that he left his home and his family numerous times. What I never understood was why. He alluded to tensions at home but never detailed why things were tense. He briefly touched on Amish customs but mostly this book was taken up with a list of his behaviours and his actions over time. I never got the slightest sense of his motivations, and the book was almost over before he talked, even a little, about faith.


Review: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman


The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

by Deb Perelman


Read 4/13/2013

The recipes are creative and clever, though they do seem a little complex- perhaps needlessly so. I have not yet made anything from the book, so I can’t be sure. The photography is lovely. The breezy tone makes it sound like the blog it came from. I’m not sure I approve of the breezy tone here- I don’t know if it’s creeping geezerhood or if it just strikes me as off because I’m not one of her blog followers. I’m willing to ascribe it to my own curmudgeonliness.