Reading List

Books that I have read recently…

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I love all things Julia Child.  I have no idea why.  I did watch her show on PBS as a kid.  She seemed like a really cool lady.  Her life was quite fascinating.  And I love butter just as much as her.  This book did not disappoint.  Her grandnephew (from her husband’s side of the family) finished this book after she passed away in 2004 .  It draws on her early career in television, her ongoing love affair with her husband Paul.  Her love of food and friendship can be felt throughout this book.  She was a mentor to so many amazing chefs that we know today.  She was, by and large, the most influential person in American-French food.

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We had the honor of meeting the author of this book, Hiddensee, in our hometown last year.  We received this book for free just for attending the author’s lecture.  Gregory Maguire, the author of the literary hit Wicked, writes to our always present, yet often hidden away child.  We took our own copy of Wicked and he signed both books for us.  In Hiddensee he tells us the “back story” of a beloved character from the Tchaikovsky ballet, The Nutcracker.  It took a while for me to get into this story.  The beginning (about 1/4 of the way in) was pretty dull.  But, I forged ahead.  And found that I didn’t want it to end.  The sad and thoughtful life of the beloved Drosselmeier who carved the Nutcracker, a toy that took on a life of its own was sad, yet full of hope.

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I had high hopes for this book because I really loved The Japanese Lover by this author.  This was a bit predictable.  Three people thrown into a story that don’t seem to belong together.  There was no chemistry even though two of the characters were supposed to be in love.  Meh.

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Another book by Gregory Maguire.  This book is in the young adult section at our library.  It was really good.  It’s about two teenage girls, one poor and one wealthy, whose lives are switched after a fateful meeting at a train station.  This is the second book by Maguire that I’ve read that the Baba Yaga character is featured.   She’s a witch from Russian folklore who lives in a house that walks on chicken legs.  This Baba Yaga was hysterical, but we had a glimpse into a possible soft side to her.  Great characters.  Great laughs.  The imagery that Maguire set forth with his words provided me with a magical and very real setting within my mind.

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This book was about a fictional family (though the struggle’s these characters endured did happen to real people a few decades ago in China) who lived during Chairman Mao’s reign in China.  And how ordinary people can live amongst tumultuous times and ideas that they don’t agree with and overcome.  And how the power of love and hope overrides what struggles they come face to face with.  The bond of family is very strong in this novel.

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I really liked this book.  It’s about the author George Sand, which was the pen name of Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin.  She lived and worked in France during the 1800s.  She had affairs with many artists, including Chopin and Musset.  She was feminist and a strong believer in personal freedom, even for a mother, which can still be seen as a taboo subject in the 21st century.  It is historical fiction, but most everything written is about true events that occurred centuries ago, with dialogue that I hope was almost spot-on.  That lady had spirit!

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