I feel like it's practically December already, but I didn't want that to stop me from sharing what I read in October! I feel like it was a slow month, reading wise, with nothing terribly remarkable in the stack, but there were a few good titles you might be interested in adding to your To-Be-Read pile.
Wicked Lies by Lora Leigh: Annie Mayes is a teacher in Loudon, Tennessee. Jazz Lancing is an ex-Navy SEAL determined to win Annie's affection, even though he knows she's lying about her identity. Annie would like nothing more than for Jazz to take her in his arms, but allowing him to get too close could put them both in danger. As steamy romances go, I suppose this fits the bill. The storyline was a little too unrealistic for me, even though I think Leigh does a great job of creating suspense. Not a series I will seek out more titles from.
Your Two-Year-Old: Terrible or Tender by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D., and Frances L. Ilg, M.D.: Forewarned is forearmed, right? I was wanting a book that would walk me through what to expect of E's development over the next year, and I was thrilled when I saw this slim volume sitting on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. I was actually looking for a book like this last year, but apparently I didn't look very hard because this series has been around since the 70s. Ames and Ilg walk through the third year of life, discussing general characteristics of the age, how a 2-year-old relates to other children and the outside world, techniques for dealing with less-than-ideal behaviors, and what the 2-year-old is capable of. There's also a long list of good books and toys for this age group.
I learned a lot reading this (apparently, 2 1/2 is the age that will really try your patience). There is some advice that seems very outdated (mostly in the 'Stories from Real Life' chapter), but on the whole, 2-year-olds haven't changed much since 1976, so this book is very much still applicable. It's a quick read, too, so I'll definitely be coming back to it in a few months.
Food Whore by Jessica Tom: Tia Monroe moves to New York City determined to bust into the culinary scene. When an internship goes up in smoke, she's grasping at straws trying to find her way. So when Michael Saltz, a legendary food critic, confides in Tia that he's lost his sense of taste and recruits her to ghostwrite his reviews, she goes for it. But the gig isn't quite as sweet as she was expecting. This was pitched as The Devil Wears Prada meets Kitchen Confidential. I feel like that's a fair comparison, but it's maybe a little more Kitchen Confidential than The Devil Wears Prada, so not being a foodie, I lost interest. Still, it could be a great book for the right reader, so I wanted to include it even though it ended up being a Did Not Finish for me. ARC received from the publisher for review purposes.
Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food by Megan Kimble: I actually finished this book a couple of months ago, but decided to include it here when I realized I hadn't written about it. Megan Kimble is a 26-year-old grad student who decides to spend a year eating unprocessed food (her rule of thumb for what defines unprocessed is anything that can be done in her kitchen). She bakes bread, makes chocolate, and slaughters a sheep (okay, maybe that last one can't be done in a kitchen). Along the way, she unpacks the current state of our food industry with beautifully wrought comparisons ("If an apple is a neatly wrapped package, then refined sugar is e-mail spam.").
There's a lot of food for thought here, no pun intended. I identified quite a bit with Kimble's relationship to food. Like Kimble, I grew up eating dinner with my family every night. Like Kimble, it was typically a meal prepared by my mom, from scratch.
I press my mom on the time issue. She was on her feet all day, commanding a classroom full of seventh graders. "Wasn't it hard to work all day and then come home and cook dinner?" She's noncommittal- I can almost hear her shrug. "I don't know. You know, we'd do all the shopping on Sunday, so the food would be there."
I'm surprised at her nonchalance. The fact that my mom cooked dinner every night seems now, in adulthood, like a defining feature of my childhood, and she is literally shrugging it off.
Kimble and her mom go on to discuss how much food has changed in her mother's lifetime. Her mother mentions when bagged salad hit the shelves in the 90s. That part really stuck out to me. I don't remember a time when bagged salad wasn't available, having really only paid attention to the specifics of groceries (prices, availability) since roughly 2001, when I got my first job. I loved being able to go to the store and buy things my mother wouldn't. My senior year of high school, breakfast was often a Philadelphia To Go bagel and a container of cranberry juice (the kind with a lot of sugar, no doubt), eaten sitting on the floor in front of my locker. While my mother clearly remembers a time when processed food was not the norm, I do not, and it absolutely affects my shopping habits. Did you know that pre-grated cheese contains an anti-caking agent? I had no idea. I always grabbed a bag of shredded cheese instead of a block because most of the time I was making something that called for shredded cheese, so why not save a few minutes of meal prep? Not anymore, I'd rather buy a block and grate it at home.
This book is a must-read for any Millenial who cares the tiniest bit about the food they are feeding themselves and their family. While a full-on year unprocessed is probably more than most are willing to tackle. Unprocessed will certainly inspire small, manageable changes in the way you eat. Like grating your own cheese. Copy received from the publisher for review.
Rising Strong by Brene Brown: I'm not sure what I can say about this that hasn't already been said. Brown's work is required reading for anyone interested in being a better person. Her words often hit close to home. Her latest book deals with what to do after failure, and her advice is applicable for failures small (an argument with a spouse) and large (a business deal gone wrong). The entire book was worth reading for chapter 10 alone, where Brown confronts her insecurities about who she is and where she came from though perhaps it's not as funny if you aren't from Texas yourself:
Well, as it turns out, I've got more in common with Annie Oakley than I do with Annie Hall. I'm a cusser from a long maternal line of cussers. I call the refrigerator the icebox and the countertops drainboards. I grew up hunting deer and shooting skeet. I don't understand whe everyone doesn't use the words tump and fixin' and y'all. They're efficient. (Why waste time saying "turn and dump" when you can just say, "Kids! Be careful! Y'all are fixin' to tump those glasses over.") Besides, y'all is much more gender friendly than you guys.
Pairs nicely with Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Plumdog by Emma Chichester Clark: Plumdog is the diary of Plum, a sweet little whoosell (a whippet mixed with Jack Russell and poodle). She loves playing in the river, rolling in fox poo and going to the park with friends. Her year begins on a positive note, with resolutions to be braver, to catch a cat, and not unstuff new toys immediately. She chronicles her adventures in London and sojourns to the country, as well as her owner Emma's various attempts to thwart her fun.
Plumdog is gorgeously illustrated (by Emma; you can thank Plum for the words). It's rare to find a graphic novel that will be equally enjoyed by adults and children alike, but this one fits the bill. It's a quick read that would make a great holiday gift for dog lovers of all ages. I received this book from Blogging for Books for review purposes.