Obsidian Blue

Government drone by day and book lover and geek girl by night!

Reading progress update: I've read 10%.

Yes, Chef: A Memoir - Marcus Samuelsson, Veronica Chambers

So far really enjoying. Reading about Chef Marcus Samuelsson life growing up as an adopted boy from Ethiopia in Sweden. 

A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines

A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines - Anthony Bourdain

My Goodreads account is not keeping up with my books currently reading. I started this on Saturday (December 9th) and finished it yesterday.

Anthony Bourdain is always a good read to me. I really loved his first memoir, Kitchen Confidential. I think due to what is going on in the U.S. right now, I have been reading a lot of cooking memoirs the past few weeks. There is something wonderful about reading about other cultures and their love of food. And I have tried to recreate some menus (did not attempt any in this book though for obvious reasons).

Off the bat you get that Bourdain loves food. He loves meeting/talking to other food obsessed people. Starring in a television show that is taking him around the globe to eat food seemed like a win-win. Some scenes were rather hard to read about (the one describing how ducks are stuffed to make foie gras---no thank you), others are humorous, and at times you get a feeling of sadness depending on what Bourdain is going on about in a particular chapter.

I have to say that the book itself jumps around a lot. I don't know if this is the order he filmed or what. We go to Russia, Tokyo, Scotland, France, England, Saigon, and other countries with Bourdain and his camera crew along with local men/women who show Bourdain how to eat/prepare their favorite dishes.

I would say don't read this if you have a weak stomach though. You read about a pig being slaughtered, a goat, and about Bourdain hunting rabbits (seriously).

I think my favorite chapters has to be about Bourdain waxing enthusiastically about Gordon Ramsey and Hubert Keller. I really wish I could eat at The French Laundry cause it sounds wonderful.

I didn't rate this five stars since the book jumped around a lot and I didn't know what angle Bourdain was going for in the final execution of this book. Was it to share his love of food? His realizing there is no such thing as a perfect meal, rather it's the memory that you go chasing when thinking of your favorite food? Or was it to showcase other cultures and how they got really screwed by other countries (Vietnam and Cambodia).

Not For Me--DNF at 25 Percent or Page 125

The House of the Spirits: A Novel - Isabel Allende

I just looked at when I started this book and have to say it's really sad it took me this long to through in the towel. I already could tell as soon as I started the writing was going to drive me bonkers, but it became too much for me to overcome in the end and I stopped reading at 26 percent, or page 125 of 468 in my Kindle version of this book.

 

What's to say in the end. There were too many characters doing random things that I didn't follow. I know this is a magical realism book, but didn't really see it much in what I read. But I think the wall of text is what was so offputting to me as a reader. There were just whole pages with a block of text and no spacing in between. I had a hard time keeping the sentence straight which hasn't happened to me in a long time.

 

I know this book is a classic, but in the end it's not just for me.

 

"The House of the Spirits" follows three generations of the Trueba family, living in Chile. And I could not tell you a single character's name without cheating and going back to the synopsis.

 

I just found the what I read to be rather flat and colorless and finally jumped back into a memoir I was reading.

Reading progress update: I've read 6%.

The House of the Spirits: A Novel - Isabel Allende

I am not enjoying this. It's just walls of text coming at me.

 

 

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I Savored This Book

My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories - David Lebovitz

I had so much fun reading this cookbook/memoir over the past week. I didn't hurry, just enjoyed the recipes, the little stories, and the vibrant pictures that David Lebovitz included. 

 

I will say that I found the recipes intriguing and thought everything sounded great. I am now addicted to salted butter and found out things that I never knew before regarding duck fat. Also I now want to buy all the duck fat and make it with potatoes. Mmmmmm.

 

I would say that I wish that we had more stories included. The recipes are great, but the book comes alive for me when Mr. Lebovitz gives readers an intimate look at his life in Paris. Whether it is finding out where to get kale or how to purchase cheeses, he makes everything seem like a fun adventure. 

 

One warning. Do not read this book if you are even a little bit hungry. 

Keeping the Moon

Keeping the Moon - Sarah Dessen

Just read if you want to read all the Dessen books. Otherwise, skip it. The book abruptly ends and there's no real closure to Colie's slightly frayed relationship with her mother. One good thing I will say is that I enjoyed Isabel and Morgan's relationship/friendship.

 

Colie is sent to stay with her Aunt Mia for the summer. Her famous mother is traveling and Colie is shuffled off for the summer. You may initially get the impression that Colie's mother doesn't care, but she does. We just don't get a lot of time getting to know them much cause Dessen drops tidbits here and there and jumps around.

 

We find out that Colie is having a hard time at school and that rumors about her have caused her to hide herself. Meeting Morgan, Isabel, and Norman slowly has her coming out of her shell. I do say though I'm not a huge fan of suddenly a girl being "gorgeous" by getting her hair done, eyebrows plucked, and makeup being applied. I think ultimately Dessen wants young girls to read this and realize they are beautiful no matter what. She kind of negates all that with the reveal about Isabel though making it seem that when you get older,you automatically are going to be a beauty.

 

The character of Mia is pretty much ignored, no real depth there. I'm surprised Colie at least doesn't bring up how hard her and her mother's life was while I was sitting on money. Most of this book felt like things were left unsaid.

 

The book is fairly short. Probably why I felt like a lot of things were left undone. I would have liked some scenes with Colie back home, dating, standing tall against her tormenters.

Subpar Gamache

The Beautiful Mystery - Louise Penny

This Gamache doesn't hang together very well. When Gamache and two of his team are called to a monastery to investigate a murder, things once again come to a head with Jean- Guy and Gamache's supervisor who is intent on making him pay for not being corruptible. I also didn't get much of the discussion about the chants/singing that was discussed throughout the book. 

 

I think it's been about three months since the events in the last book. Jean-Guy is now dating Annie (Gamache's only daughter) and just oozes love now. The way they are together now gave me whiplash. Especially since I didn't read a hint of this in the prior book. It honestly doesn't feel earned. Jean-Guy acts like a fool worrying how Gamache will take it when he finds it. But also daydreams about being related to him. 

 

Gamache is focused on the case and finds himself in awe of visiting the monastery that has come into public focus now that the monks singing Georgian chants has become the new thing. He realizes quickly after Francoeur shows up, that the man is planning something. Again. It's just repetitive at this point. We hear about the video tape again. Jean-Guy watches it again and gets bitter again about Gamache leaving him to die.

 

Honestly I ended up skimming most of the book after a while. I just didn't care anymore. Either tell readers who released the tape, of the raid or don't. Either have Jean-Guy get over it or not. I hope Annie dumps his butt but that's probably doubtful.

 

The writing was so-so. I just found it boring to read about the chants and what they meant. Everyone has a look of bliss/Joy when discussing singing. I found it pretty repetitive after a while. Penny shows Gamache and Jean-Guy at several points writing to their respective wife and girlfriend. I assume I'm supposed to imagine how perfect Jean-Guy is since he is acting similar to Gamache? I just went meh.

 

The setting of the monastery should have been intriguing, but falls flat when Francoeur shows up and throws his weight around. 

 

The ending leaves Gamache alone. I'm still going to read the next book, hope it bounces back from this. 

Reading progress update: I've read 20%.

My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories - David Lebovitz

I'm loving this. The pictures alone are worth it!

 

He's a very good story teller and the recipes seem easy enough. I'm embarrassed I have done a few no nos he mentions such as washing your knives in the dishwasher. 

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

Keeping the Moon - Sarah Dessen

I forgot to update this yesterday when I finished. Not that interesting I'm afraid. I feel like Dessen forgot a 1/3 of the story. 

 

I think if we had more of a sense of the main character it would have worked better. Instead we have her reflecting on her past in fits and starts and starting to realize over this summer she is attractive. I just needed more. There's also the fact the book just comes to a sudden end. 

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

The Beautiful Mystery - Louise Penny

This book was awful. I couldn't despise Jean Guy anymore than after the last book, but here we are. Sigh. 

 

The writing was clunky, I'm tired of the higher ups trying to ruin Gamache. It's getting old. The flow was off the whole time after Francoeur showed up. His pissing contest with Gamache is old. I'm tired of hearing about the raid too. Jean Guy acting like a child thinking that Gamache left him when Gamache was doing what he could to save others. 

 

Why is Gamache's daughter dating a drug addict? Apparently only three months have passed since the last book and you're going to tell me she didn't see his behavior and wonder?

 

The setting of the monastery was so so. I just couldn't get into the overall murder mystery.

 

The ending fell flat. Hope the next one is better. 

16 Tasks of the Festive Season (26 Points)

Tasks complete, now going through again. 

 

Just wanted to have this at the top of my blog cause I want to see about doing at least two tasks this weekend.


Thinking on doing the following: 

 

Square 6: Tasks for Sinterklaas / St. Martin’s Day / Krampusnacht: Write a witty or humorous poem to St. Nicholas –OR– If you have kids, leave coins or treats, like tangerines, walnuts, chocolate(s) and cookies in their shoes to find the next morning and then post about their reactions / bewilderment. ;) If you don’t have kids, do the same for another family member / loved one or a friend.

 

Square 7: Tasks for International Human Rights Day: Post a picture of yourself next to a war memorial or other memorial to an event pertaining to Human Rights. (Pictures of just the memorial are ok too.) –OR– Cook a dish from a foreign culture or something involving apples (NYC = Big Apple) or oranges (The Netherlands); post recipe and pics.

 

 

Tasks completed in bold:

 

Task 1-Tasks for Día de Muertos and All Saint’s Day: create a short poem, or an epitaph for your most hated book ever.

 

Task 2-Tasks for Guy Fawkes Night: Post pictures of past or present bonfires, fireworks (IF THEY’RE LEGAL) or sparklers.

 

Task 2- Tasks for Bon Om Touk:  Post a picture from your most recent or favorite vacation on the sea (or a lake, river, or any other body of water larger than a puddle), or if you're living on the sea or on a lake or a river, post a picture of your favorite spot on the shore / banks / beach / at the nearest harbour.

 

Task 3-Tasks for Verteran’s Day/Armistice Day: Make, or draw a red poppy and show us a pic of your red poppy or other symbol of remembrance –OR– post a quote or a piece of poetry about the ravages of war. 

 

Task 3-Tasks for St. Martin’s Day: Write a Mother Goose-style rhyme or a limerick; the funnier the better.  –OR–Take a picture of the book you’re currently reading, next to a glass of wine, or the drink of your choice, with or without a fire in the background.  –OR–

Bake Weckmann; if you’re not a dab hand with yeast baking, make a batch of gingerbread men, or something else that’s typical of this time of the year where you live.  Post pics of the results and the recipe if you’d like to share it.

 

Task 4-Tasks for Thanksgiving Day: List of 5 things you’re grateful for –OR–

Post a picture of your thanksgiving feast; or your favourite turkey-day recipe.  –OR–

Be thankful for yourself and treat yourself to a new book and post a picture of it.

Bonus task:  share your most hilarious turkey-day memory.

 

Tasks for Penance Day: Tell us – what has recently made you stop in your tracks and think?  What was a big turning point in your life?  –OR– 

Compile a catalogue of theses (it needn’t be 95) about book blogging!  What suggestions or ideas would you propose to improve the experience of book blogging?

 

Task 5-Tasks for AdventPost a pic of your advent calendar. (Festive cat, dog, hamster or other suitable pet background expressly encouraged.) –OR– “Advent” means “he is coming.”  Tell us: What in the immediate or near future are you most looking forward to?  (This can be a book release, or a tech gadget, or an event … whatever you next expect to make you really happy.)

 

Task 6-Tasks for Bodhi Day:  Perform a random act of kindness.  Feed the birds, adopt a pet, hold the door open for someone with a smile, or stop to pet a dog (that you know to be friendly); cull your books and donate them to a charity, etc. (And, in a complete break with the Buddha’s teachings, tell us about it.)  –OR– Post a picture of your pet, your garden, or your favourite, most peaceful place in the world.

 

Task 7-Tasks for Saint Lucia's Day: Get your Hygge on -light a few candles if you’ve got them, pour yourself a glass of wine or hot chocolate/toddy, roast a marshmallow or toast a crumpet, and take a picture of your cosiest reading place.

 

Task 8-Tasks for Las Posadas: Which was your favorite / worst / most memorable hotel / inn / vacation home stay ever?  Tell us all about it! –OR– If you went caroling as a kid: Which are your best / worst / most unforgettable caroling memories?

 

 Task 9- Tasks for Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night: Read a book in one night - in the S. Hemisphere, read a book in a day. –OR–Grab one of your thickest books off the shelf.  Ask a question and then turn to page 40 and read the 9th line of text on that page.  Post your results.  –OR–Eat a watermelon or pomegranate for good luck and health in the coming year, but post a pic first! Bonus task:  Read a book in one night.

 

Task 10- Tasks for World Peace Day: Cook something involving olives or olive oil. Share the results and/or recipe with us. –OR– Tell us: If you had wings (like a dove), where would you want to fly?

 

Task 10- Tasks for Pancha Ganapati: Post about your 5 favourite books this year and why you appreciated them so much. –OR–Take a shelfie / stack picture of the above-mentioned 5 favorite books.  (Feel free to combine these tasks into 1!

 

Task 11-Tasks for Dōngzhì Festival: If you like Chinese food, tell us your favorite dish – otherwise, tell us your favorite desert. (Recipes, as always, welcome.)

 

Bonus point for Melbourne Cup. 

 

Task 12-Tasks for Festivus: Post your personal list of 3 Festivus Miracles –OR–

Post a picture of your Festivus pole (NOTHING pornographic, please!), –OR–

Perform the Airing of Grievances:  name 5 books you’ve read this year that have disappointed you - tell us in tongue-lashing detail why and how they failed to live up to expectations.

 

Task 14- Tasks for Dies Natalis Solis Invicti: Find the sunniest spot in your home, that’s warm and comfy and read your book. –OR–Take a picture of your garden, or a local garden/green space in the sun (even if the ground is under snow).  If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, take a picture of your local scenic spot, park, or beach, on a sunny day.  –OR– The Romans believed that the sun god rode across the sky in a chariot drawn by fiery steeds.  Have you ever been horseback riding, or did you otherwise have significant encounters with horses?  As a child, which were your favorite books involving horses? 

 

Task 14-Tasks for Quaid-e-Azam: Pakistan’s first leader – Muhammad Ali Jinnah – was a man, but both Pakistan and neighboring India were governed by women (Benazir Bhutto and Indira Gandhi respectively) before many of the major Western countries.  Tell us: Who are the present-day or historic women that you most respect, and why?  (These can be any women of great achievement, not just political leaders.)

 

Task 15-Tasks for Newtonmas: Take a moment to appreciate gravity and the laws of motion. If there’s snow outside, have a snowball fight with a friend or a member of your family.  –OR– Take some time out to enjoy the alchemical goodness of a hot toddy or chocolate or any drink that relies on basic chemistry/alchemy (coffee with cream or sugar / tea with milk or sugar or lemon, etc.).  Post a picture of your libations and the recipe if it’s unique and you’re ok with sharing it.

 

Task 16-Tasks for Kwanzaa: Create a stack of books in the Kwanzaa color scheme using red, black and green and post your creation and post a photo (or post a photo of a shelfie where black, red and green predominate).

BONUS task: Create something with your stack of books:  a christmas tree or other easily identifiable object.


Task 13-
Tasks for Christmas: Post a picture of your stockings hung from the chimney with care, –OR– a picture of Santa’s ‘treat’ waiting for him. –OR– Share with us your family Christmas traditions involving gift-giving, or Santa’s visit. Did you write letters to Santa as a kid (and if so, did he write back, as J.R.R. Tolkien did “as Santa Claus” to his kids)? If so, what did you wish for? A teddy bear or a doll? Other toys – or practical things? And did Santa always bring what you asked for?

 

 

Total points: 26

 

Reading progress update: I've read 20%.

Keeping the Moon - Sarah Dessen

Ehh not engaging. It's okay. Just can see it will not be my favorite Sarah Dessen.

 

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Reading progress update: I've read 25%.

The Beautiful Mystery - Louise Penny

Sorry this is still boring. I may be pretty damn close to DNFing a Louise Penny book. First time.

 

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November 2017: Books Read

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Well I read 24 books this month. I finally also hit my reading goal this month. i completed reading 337 books. I also slowed down on reading this month. I got a new position and have been uber busy. I am going to have to try to catch up on some planned reads for the month of December.

 

5 stars

Poison in Paddington by Samantha SilverLa Belle Sauvage by Philip PullmanShrill by Lindy WestWhat Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

B is for Burglar by Sue GraftonE is for Evidence by Sue GraftonC is for Corpse by Sue GraftonG is for Gumshoe by Sue Grafton

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

 

4 stars

The Fold by Peter ClinesSummer at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie  JohnsonBroken Homes by Ben AaronovitchNeverwhere by Neil Gaiman

A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

 

3 stars

The Cosy Teashop in the Castle by Caroline   RobertsD is for Deadbeat by Sue GraftonF is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton

 

2 stars

 

Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie  JohnsonThe Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa SeeStartup by Doree  ShafrirDefy the Stars by Claudia Gray

A Thin Dark Line by Tami HoagFoxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

 

1 star

The Cosy Christmas Teashop by Caroline   Roberts

 

I also managed to get through all of the tasks for the 16 Festive Tasks. I plan on going around again one more time if I have time. Got kind of stuck and have not had a chance to do a square this past week. 

My Black Body

Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates beautifully describes what it is like to be black in America. To have the world treat and see you as different because of the color of your skin. 

 

This is a collection of essays that Coates wrote to his son about his experiences growing up black in America and his thoughts of a lot of the police violence that surrounds being a black teen in America. And he describes how scared many black parents are when raising their children and doing what they can to ensure that they "get" how things are in this world. He segues back and forth into many pivotal points during the U.S.'s history (Civil War, Civil Rights, 9/11). 

 

This will make you uncomfortable. This will make you think. This will make you realize that in a hundred thousand different ways in America we do our best to tell everyone the American dream is for you, but than we hard pause and say it's not for you (if you are black, if you are Muslim, if you are Asian, if you are Hispanic) if you don't fit what the America true ideal is which is to be white and Christian.

 

“Black people love their children with a kind of obsession. You are all we have, and you come to us endangered.”

 

“The destroyers will rarely be held accountable. Mostly they will receive pensions.”

 

“You may have heard the talk of diversity, sensitivity training, and body cameras. These are all fine and applicable, but they understate the task and allow the citizens of this country to pretend that there is real distance between their own attitudes and those of the ones appointed to protect them. The truth is that the police reflect America in all of its will and fear, and whatever we might make of this country’s criminal justice policy, it cannot be said that it was imposed by a repressive minority. The abuses that have followed from these policies—the sprawling carceral state, the random detention of black people, the torture of suspects—are the product of democratic will. And so to challenge the police is to challenge the American people who send them into the ghettos armed with the same self-generated fears that compelled the people who think they are white to flee the cities and into the Dream. The problem with the police is not that they are fascist pigs but that our country is ruled by majoritarian pigs.”

Nah.

Foxglove Summer: A Rivers of London Novel - Ben Aaronovitch

Spoilers for those who have not read books #1 through #4. 

 

Seriously. I know I am probably going to get yelled at for this review. But I stand by everything I am saying. This felt like half a book. There were so many dangling threads left that when the book came to an end I had to make sure that I didn't accidentally skip over the pages. The lack of Nightingale being part of things was felt. Peter was being a fool throughout most of the book so that was frustrating. I don't know what we are supposed to be feeling about Lesley. But her coming out with a whole, "I did it for you Peter" mess just made me roll my eyes. I don't know what Ben Aaronovitch is doing with her character.

 

"Foxglove Summer" has Peter away from London going to help out on a case of two missing girls. Initially, Peter doesn't think that magic had anything to do with the two girls and really wants to stay and help (also to avoid thinking about Lesley) but once magic starts to creep up, he realizes that something supernatural is going on.

 

Peter was a mess in this one. I get it, it's like what happened to Muller when Scully was MIA. Peter though he is trying to deny it, misses Lesley cause she's not there to point out things he is missing. I really wanted him to be more angry though. At least Nightingale seems to get how dangerous it is that Lesley is out in the world working for the Faceless Man. I didn't like that Peter essentially keeps doing stupid things throughout this book and even in the end, without Beverly helping out, he would have been screwed. 

 

We have Beverly fully in this one, so that is the only reason why I gave this two stars. I still don't understand her and Peter's "relationship" at all. I was just glad they finally stopped with the will they or won't they thing. I just found it very odd she and Peter don't really get into what Lesley did or what exactly does it mean that Peter is sleeping with her. 

 

I don't get what Aaronvitch is doing with Lesley. Okay she betrayed Peter and Nightingale. I kept thinking that she wasn't jealous of Peter and Beverly, but that seems to be where she is at headspace wise. Is this why she is doing this? I hope not, I am not thrilled with her betraying everyone. But if this turns out to be she did this to get her face back so Peter could love her, yuck. It also didn't help that she goes that in a year the Faceless Man is going to ruin the world, but hey Peter I am going to keep you safe. Is she out of her mind? So screw her family, his family, Molly, Nightingale, etc. Only Peter matters? I was just baffled by the whole thing.


There are only phone calls between Peter and Nightingale which was frustrating. At least a new character finally clued us into what the big battle was all about and why Nightingale doesn't want to talk about it though.

 

I really didn't like anyone besides the character of Dominic who steps into Lesley's shoes and made me laugh. That said, there was very little humor in this one.


The writing was okay, just muddled at times. We don't have Ben Aaronovitch going back to tie things up so I was just confused about a number of plot points.

 

We know that the two girls are sisters (the fake Nicole and real Nicole) so how did that happen? Also how did everyone in the village sleep with one guy and no one thinks they should be concerned that they may share kids so they should be thinking about what happens when they are all dating age?

 

Does this mean that Nicole's oldest sister (blanking on her name) is a changeling?

 

Does this mean that due to Peter reneging on his deal with the Fairy Queen he is going to owe the Rivers?

 

Also does this mean that Peter is going to get into trouble with Nightingale for getting involved with Beverly?

 

I had so many questions and wanted to kick something. 

(show spoiler)

The flow was off after a good 20 percent of the book. I found myself getting bored. Without anyone to really bounce things off of, Peter is kind of a boring character. 


The setting of Herefordshire was good. I could picture a village that has a touch of magic about it and all of the neighbors knowing each other. I just didn't get a sense for the village as a whole. We stayed focused on the two families, and Dominic's family and that was about it. I wish that Peter had been out and about more with the locals. 

 

The ending was a letdown. I think that Aaronovitch thought he wrapped things up...but yeah not even a little bit. This book felt shorter to me too. It was 333 pages though so it's not that. It just felt like very little got done in this one compared to the other books in the series. 

Currently reading

The Sleepwalker: A Novel by Chris Bohjalian
The Girl Before: A Novel by JP Delaney
The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch
Yes, Chef: A Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson, Veronica Chambers
Progress: 10%
Midnight Curse (Disrupted Magic) by Melissa F. Olson