Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Blogging every day of June | May reading round up

June is bustin' out all over and I've foolishly bravely joined a bunch of Twittering friends on a challenge to blog every day this month!  This blog has been so quiet that I'm hoping the practice will rejuvenate it a bit.

Reading Round Up for May

A taint in the blood / Dana Stabenow.
Hired by Charlotte Mauravieff, who wants to clear her mother's name of the arson fire that killed one of her brothers, private investigator Kate Shugak finds the case complicated by someone who wants the truth to stay hidden.~from the blurb.
This one was recommended to me and I quite enjoyed it.  It is set in Alaska and is an entertaining crime/mystery with a strong female character.  I was a little bit uncomfortable with attitude towards men but anyway, a good story.

Delicious / Nicky Pellegrino.
At Caffe Angeli the pastries are rich and creamy, the coffee strong and the tables always overflowing with friends, neighbours and - who knows - maybe a suitable husband for one of the pretty Carrozza girls. At least, that's what Pepina hopes for her two eldest daughters. The trouble is the girls have plans of their own.The drama that ensues has repercussions that continue from the 1960s to the present day and travel from a quiet village in southern Italy to a seaside town in England and beyond. In this sumptuous story of food and love, dreams are fulfilled, but never quite as planned.~from the blurb

The Italian wedding / Nicky Pellegrino.
Two feuding families, two love stories and a feast of delicious Italian food. As Pieta stiches and beads her sister's wedding gown, she uncovers the secrets that make her family what it is and stands between her and happiness. ~from the blurb

A New Zealand author who is probably best known for her co-writing of Angela D'Audney's biography, turns her hand to writing stories.  I liked these books for a relaxing undemanding read.  Good family drama.  The ending is a little rushed in Delicious.  Both have lots of coverage of Italian food which is always a hit with me! :P

I'm perfect, you're doomed : tales from a Jehovah's witness upbringing / Kyria Abrahams.
"I'm Perfect, You're Doomed is the story of Kyria Abrahams's coming-of-age as a Jehovah's Witness-- a doorbell-ringing Pioneer of the Lord. Her childhood was haunted by the knowledge that her neighbors and schoolmates were doomed to die in an imminent fiery apocalypse; that Smurfs were evil; that just about anything you could buy at a yard sale was infested by demons; and that Ouija boards-- even if they were manufactured by Parker Brothers-- were portals to hell. Never mind how popular you are when you hand out the Watchtower instead of candy at Halloween. When Abrahams turned eighteen, things got even stranger. That's when she found herself married to a man she didn't love, with adultery her only way out. Disfellowshipped and exiled from the only world she'd ever known, Abrahams realized that the only people who could save her were the very sinners she had prayed would be smitten by God's wrath. Raucously funny, deeply unsettling, and written with scorching wit and deep compassion, I'm Perfect, You're Doomed explores the ironic absurdity of growing up believing that nothing matters because everything's about to be destroyed"--Publisher's description.
This was funny but also very sad.  The writing was amusing.  The sadness came from two sources. Firstly, the strange doctrines that were promoted by the church and secondly, the way the author ended up dealing with it.   Kind of disappointing.

Julie and Julia : 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen : how one girl risked her marriage, her job, and her sanity to master the art of living / Julie Powell.
Powell became an Internet celebrity with her 2004 blog chronicling her yearlong odyssey of cooking every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. A frustrated secretary in New York City, Powell embarked on "the Julie/Julia project" to find a sense of direction, and both the cooking and the writing quickly became all-consuming. Some passages in the book are taken verbatim from the blog, but Powell expands on her experience and gives generous background about her personal life: her doting husband, wacky friends, evil co-workers. Powell never met Julia Child, but the venerable chef's spirit is present throughout, and Powell imaginatively reconstructs episodes from Child's life in the 1940s.~from the blurb
A celebrated book (with associated movie) so I had high hopes for this one despite others suggesting it did not live up to the hype, but in the end my feelings were mixed about it. I found the book to have too much of the My-life-sucks-so-I'm-going-to-do-something-dramatic-to-make-it-worthwhile-and-tell-everybody-about-it theme.  Is this style of book something that is being promoted as best sellers by publishers?  Or is the apparent consumer desire for reality-TV style of writing more common? Either way, I'm not sure I'm on the band wagon.  Anyway, I liked hearing about the food related adventures I guess. I was almost tempted to turn my blog into Penny Cooks Everything In xCookbook as a fun sort of exercise... just wasn't able to choose one of my many books!  Plus I don't do offal.

We two : Victoria and Albert: rulers, partners, rivals / Gillian Gill.
Gillian Gill offers a revolutionary portrait of a queen and her prince, revealing at once both an intimate but far-from-idyllic relationship that succeeded against all odds as the strong, feisty queen and the brilliant, fragile prince worked together to build a family based on support, trust, and fidelity.~from the blurb
Found this book to be interesting and easy to read.  I didn't do much Victorian history at school so I like to learn new stuff about different periods.  This one was fresh.

May Book Circle Book
Bad science / Ben Goldacre. London : Fourth Estate, 2008.
ISBN: 9780007240197
When Dr Ben Goldacre saw someone on daytime TV dipping her feet in an ′Aqua Detox′ footbath‚ releasing her toxins into the water‚ turning it brown‚ he thought he′d try the same at home. Using his girlfriend′s Barbie doll‚ he gently passed an electrical current through the warm salt water. It turned brown. In his words: ′before my very eyes‚ the world′s first Detox Barbie was sat‚ with her feet in a pool of brown sludge‚ purged of a weekend′s immorality.′ This book is concerned with the ′bad science′ we are constantly bombarded with in the media and in advertising. At a time when science is used to prove everything and nothing‚ everyone has their own ′bad science′ moments - from the useless pie-chart on the back of cereal packets to the use of the word ′visibly′ in cosmetics ads. This book will help people to quantify their instincts - that a lot of the so-called ′science′ which appears in the media and in advertising is just wrong or misleading.~from the blurb

This one has had mixed reviews from the bookcircle folks.  Personally I found it rather funny in a *face palm* sort of way.  I have a science background so some of the things he writes about I agreed whole heartedly with, particularly the abuse by the media of statistics and scientific literature which I find verges on the unethical.  The whole nutrition band wagon thing really annoys me so it was gratifying to see some of my own feelings on it were backed up.  The history behind the vaccination/autism scare was enlightening.  I also found the information on the placebo effect highly interesting because of the connection between mind/body.  As Goldacre points out, this is something that has great potential for research and exploitation but on the whole is overlooked by those who are doing the research.

I'll stick my neck out and say everyone should read this book. So there.


  1. Interested in the one on Queen Vic and Albert. I love the Wuthering Heights and Victorian dramas so it would be good to have a historical perspective will look out for it.

  2. Oh Ben Goldacre. I love him because he took on Baroness Susan Greenfield and her "it might very well be that we are rewiring our brains because of the internet, but I won't show you any evidence although we must stop now" stance.

    He's also nephew of the venerable Australian science journalist, Robyn Williams....

    Off to try to download the book now...

  3. Oh I am fascinated by Victoria and Albert after watching "Young Victoria".

    I am however looking forward to Reading Deborah Challinor's new book :-)

  4. Very impressive list! I start a lot and seem to finish very little. There has to be a term for that (like lack of application, determination and concentration). Maybe I should do a post on all of the books I've started reading; recently only - there are far too many to name if I go back too far!).

  5. AS always I love seeing what you've read- gives me a few ideas when I'm at the library!