Mauve Cabinets and a Bottle of Red

My two passions–Food and books

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain September 8, 2010

Filed under: Book — hmills96 @ 3:18 pm
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Anthony Bourdain has single-handedly saved me this week. Imagine, terrible, body-wrenching pain. Not able to leave the bathroom for hours at a time–to the point where we rigged up an upside down hamper and a couple of pillows as a makeshift “bed” when, in the middle of the night I couldn’t hold myself upright anymore (I think J took a few pictures. I’m sure it was quite a comical sight).

But back to Tony. He is unlike any writer I have ever touched…er…read. I usually steer clear of nonfiction, but I picked up Nasty Bits at the library a few weeks ago, and flew through it in a day and a half. It was amazing. If you watch No Reservations on the Travel Channel, this book will be familiar to you. Each essay or episode, for lack of a better term, is taken straight from the show. The scenes are familiar, with Tony’s snarky comments thrown in EVERYWHERE. I loved it as much, if not more, than the show (and I’ve seen almost every episode).

I needed more. Normally, I don’t buy books at full price, I’ve explained how I use Bookins, or go to the library. I just don’t see the point in paying $15 for a book. But when I was killing time the other day while waiting on a friend, I HAD to grab Kitchen Confidential.

I devoured this book just as quickly as Nasty Bits. Tony is as amazing with words and imagery as he is, I imagine, with cassoulet. The man is just passionate about what he does. This book is dangerous, and sexy. You’ll get your hands dirty with this one, and you’ll be begging for more.

Granted, if you’re not a culinary hound, you may not enjoy Kitchen Confidential. It dives deep into the heart of professional cooking, the ends and outs of the restaurant business. However, if you enjoy food at all, Nasty Bits will make you drool.

Trust me, this will not be the last of Tony you see on this blog! I will get my hands on more of him…I mean…his books, as soon as possible!

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Egalia’s Daughters by Gerd Brantenberg August 7, 2010

Filed under: Book — hmills96 @ 12:24 pm
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This is definitely one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read. It was not easy, that’s for sure. It was, I guess you could say, awkward, to say the least. It basically takes society, and turns it on its head. Women are men and men are women. Or wim and menwim. Fele and mafele. Women walk around topless with their breasts hanging free, men wear skirts with constricting pehos.

To put it simply, a peho is the male version of a bra. It plays a huge role in the book, from the awkward first peho preteen shopping trip to a peho burning during the menwim movement later in the book.

Something to note, the author was born in Norway in 1941, during WWII. Now, I’m not very familiar with Norwegian culture, but I know the stereotypical American culture during the postwar 40s and 50s and this book makes ABSOLUTE sense with that culture. Where women were all stay at home moms, devoted to her husband and children–you know what I’m talking about, the whole Betty Crocker image. Only in Egalia, it would be Billy Crocker. Even the time line makes sense, with the peho burnings happening during the 60s and 70s.

I did find the title ironic, as this book is not about the daughters, but about the sons.

Again, this book is definitely awkward, and many times I started to put it away. But the satire was so dead on, it compelled me to keep reading. And I am SO glad I did. Because the last two chapters of the book are PERFECT. They are absolutely hilarious, not in a comical way but just because of how ironic they are. You just have to read this. A Must Read.

 

Th3rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher July 31, 2010

Filed under: Book — hmills96 @ 12:23 pm
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I was uneasy about this book. While all I tend to be interested in all things psychological, suicide is a subject I steer very far away from. I was not sure exactly what emotions this book was going to produce–probably a lot of anger, sadness–I was just not expecting a pleasant experience. But it was in the stack of books my sister gave me to read, so I gave it a go.

It was a good read, albeit definitely emotional! It walked you through the signs of suicide, and made a point that it’s not just one thing that makes a person kill themselves. It’s a constant building of little blocks until the wall just can’t support its own weight any more. Little things like a list of the 10 best butts–we had one of those in middle school, I even remember who made number one. It was a heartbreaking read. You want to save her. But she’s dead. You know it from the very beginning. You can’t save her. So you move on to the next tape, to find out why.

 

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett July 29, 2010

Filed under: Book — hmills96 @ 5:40 pm
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I’m a couple of books behind on my reviews, unfortunately. I try to post as soon as I finish a book, but as I mentioned in an earlier post, I needed a blogging break. One good thing about the journaling though, is that I’ve been writing my thoughts as I read, so I do have some notes on the books that I’ve missed.

The first thing that struck me about this book is that the chapters were marked with grand scales. Sometimes when I pick a book off my shelf I have no idea what its basis is, so I was very pleased to see that one of the themes was music. I even turned on my classical playlist to go along with it.

I loved this book. Here is what I wrote in my journal immediately after I turned the final page:

“What a wonderful–unique book! This was unlike anything I have ever read before. While it is a little unbelievable that a hostage situation would go on for so long, I’m so glad Patchett wrote it this way. The characters are so, so involved. Every detail is well thought out and makes sense. I hated the ending but it was exactly how it was supposed to be.”

Anybody else notice that is a common issue with me and endings? They usually don’t turn out how they want them to, but they are usually exactly right.

Anyway, go pick this one up. I couldn’t put it down once I started it. And don’t be afraid to turn on a little opera while you read.

“If a human soul should dream of me, may he still remember me on awakening!”–Rusalka

 

The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells July 18, 2010

Filed under: Book — hmills96 @ 7:11 pm
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I have found that it is almost always better to watch the movie BEFORE reading the book–contrary to popular belief. Why? Because no matter how good the movie is, the book is always better. So, if you watch the movie first, then you won’t be disappointed because they took out your favorite part of the book, or misinterpreted a character. You don’t know that yet. Then, when you do read the book, you can pick out all the details from the movie version, and ridicule Hollywood for leaving such a great piece out. Plus, you have images in your head of characters and of certain scenes to go along with the narrative.

For example–Robert Langdon will always be Tom Hanks to me. Mr. Darcy will always be Matthew MacFadyen (and yes, I had to look up his name). Noah & Allie will always be Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams (that one goes the other way too–those actors will always be that guy/girl from The Notebook).

Divine Secrets was no exception. I liked the movie–there’s something to be said about the popularity of films about southern girlfriends (think Steel Magnolias). But, I LOVED the book. I could hardly put it down. Because I’d watched the movie, I knew exactly what those characters should sound like–especially Vivi. I always like it when my mind automatically reads with an accent (unfortunately, depending on the book, sometimes I will start to imitate that voice in real life without meaning to).

The women in this book are such vibrant characters, people I would love to know in real life. Unfortunately, you don’t meet Vivi Walkers every day.

This book isn’t all fun and games, it does touch on alcoholism and abusive relationships, but those are the important moments that make you grateful for the Ya-Yas.

Apparently, Wells has a prequel to this book called Little Altars Everywhere, which is more about the Ya-Yas when they are young. I’m definitely adding it to my list.

 

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch July 12, 2010

Filed under: Book — hmills96 @ 5:30 am
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You know a book is good when I finish it in 4 hours. This was an extremely easy, quick ready (obviously), and I’d recommend it to anyone. I’m not usually an inspirational, nonfiction type of person–I just can’t get into something that doesn’t have a plot. But this one was extremely well written and I really enjoyed it.

This was not just another “Here’s my struggle with [Enter major illness here]. Poor me I’m going to die,” books. I thought it was going to be, and really had been dreading reading it, but since it was next in line on my shelf, I had to. I guess I could have skipped it but I decided to get it out-of-the-way. I’m so glad I did. Randy really didn’t like focusing on his cancer at all, he touched on it here and there, “introducing┬áthe elephant in the room” when it became unavoidable. But for the most part, his goal was to impart his wisdom to his children and his readers.

My favorite line in the book had to be, “You may think that you are interesting, but you are not more interesting than lunch.” I will be quoting that for a long time. The context is that if you want to have a short conversation with someone, call them at 11:55, right before their lunch hour. They will talk fast. You are not more interesting than lunch.

Read this. Give it to a graduate, a new bride or groom as a wedding present, anyone starting a new period of their lives. It’s definitely one worth picking up.

 

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous July 11, 2010

Filed under: Book — hmills96 @ 5:03 pm
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When I went home last weekend, my sister pulled this (along with about 6 other books) off of her shelf for me to read. She had to read it for one of her high school papers, and I laughed as my EXTREMELY detailed sister pulled a post-it off of seemingly every single page. I thought she was just going overboard for her paper.

But then I read it. At first, I just liked it on principle. I love diary-type books, especially those written by real people. The fact that the author remains anonymous is even better because that means it’s not going to be just teenage fluff. This book is full of extremely intense imagery–how this girl managed to consistently write during her most strung out periods I have no idea. I can hardly keep a consistent journal, and I’ve never touched even one joint, let alone LCD and heroin.

Read this book. Even if you have never and will never use drugs. Especially then. This story has huge impact–it’s one that will show you the world from a point of view you have never seen before.

I won’t tell you how it ends. Only that it will end exactly how, as you read through the pages, you expect it to end.