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How do you review an anthology like this? I can’t go into detail on each piece, because that would take ages, and you probably don’t care. So let me just keep my review short and to the point – I was pleasantly surprised by this collection of articles.

I didn’t know what to expect going in, because I haven’t read any of the previous Best Food Writing books. I love to cook, so I was thrilled to see articles about making a great bolognese, or how to make proper carnitas. Some were great life lessons too, like important things to know about cast iron pans. Others were great to think about, like why exactly people don’t cook when they easily could.

When I finished this book, I actually felt like I had learned something about cooking, and about food culture in general.

Highly recommended.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy!

For my 2015 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #12: a book of short stories. (These would count as short, nonfiction stories, right?)

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The very second that Hey There, Dumpling! showed up on Netgalley, I knew I had to have it. I love dumplings. I could eat them every day and not get tired of them. I’ve made them at home before. They were good, but they could have been better, and I had to know the secrets of good dumpling-making. I was so happy when I was approved, and this book did not let me down.

In the first half of the book, Kenny Lao covers the basics: creating a filling, folding the dumplings, pan frying, making a dipping sauce. This alone would have been enough for me to rate this book five stars. But noooo, then he has to go on and give recipes for appetizers, drinks, and desserts. There I was, in bed with the most awful cold I’ve had in recent memory, barely able to move, but salivating at the prospect of these recipes, and only wishing that I would get better so I could try them.

I have since made his “quickles” – quick pickles with garlic and Szechuan peppercorns. I chose radishes, since I have an overabundance of them from my farm. And they’re good, like… really good. I made three batches this week and have been eating them both as a side dish and throwing them in my salads. I haven’t had the chance to make any of his dumplings yet, but that’s coming. Soon, hopefully. Maybe the next time I have dinner guests.

I am seriously considering buying several copies of this cookbook and giving it as Christmas presents.

Final rating: 


It’s Monday — What are you reading?

I just finished The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman, which was so much better than I expected.  No spoilers, but I cried more than once.

I’m currently reading Sincerely Carter by Whitney G, which has been on my radar for seemingly forever.  I got a notification from Amazon that it was on sale, so I snapped it up and am now finally taking the time to read it.

Next up is Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides for my Killing the TBR challenge AND my 2015 Reading Challenge.

Oops!  I was supposed to post this yesterday, but I ended up actually having a social life, and totally forgot.  So, anyway, how did last month’s challenge go?

Well, I started off really strong, finishing The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife really quickly.  Then I got sick, and got a bunch of Netgalley approvals, and all of a sudden I only had a couple days before I was supposed to be finished with The Amber Spyglass!  But I prevailed, and just in the nick of time (literally the morning of the 17th) I finished my third choice for last month.

So, hooray!  I’m allowed to buy books this month!  But I might not, because I actually really, really enjoyed the His Dark Materials series, and it’s making me wonder which other gems I might have hiding on my bookshelves.

For this month, ending November 17, I’m focusing on books that fit in to my other challenge for the year. I’m planning to read:

  1. Don’t Look Back by Karin Fossum (a book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t)
  2. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (a Pulitzer prize winner)
  3. Skipped Parts by Tim Sandlin (a book you started but never finished)

I am actually really excited about this month, because I probably would have gone out and purchased a Pulitzer prize winner for this challenge, but I had one gathering dust on my bookshelf this whole time!  I’ve saved myself a good $10-15 by just reading books I already own!

I’ll be posting again on November 17 to let you know how the challenge is going.

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I’m a really big fan of Laura Drewry’s Friends First series, so I was really excited to be invited to review How Forever Feels.  This installment follows Maya, who we’ve previously seen mending her broken heart after her divorce.

Maya’s got a good heart, but it’s still taken her a long time to open herself up again after finding out that her beloved husband had been cheating on her.  But now, two years later, she’s getting ready to put herself out there again… and in walks Jack, her ex-husband’s best friend.  Maya met Jack shortly before she met her future ex-husband, Will.  While she always thought that Jack was simply introducing her to Will at that long-ago party, it turns out he’d actually been flirting with her!  Jack has always harbored secret feelings for Maya, but given all that Will’s family has done for him through the years, he never acted on them. But now, with Maya feeling herself drawn to Jack as well, the two of them must figure out how deep their feelings go and whether a relationship is worth the inevitable fall-out.

When I read books by Laura Drewry, I know that I’m in for a good experience.  This is my third book by her (somehow I missed Plain Jayne, but I’ll get there eventually!) and I liked it just as much as the last two.  She has a talent for writing realistic, likable characters in unusual, yet not unbelievable situations.

The only thing that didn’t sit quite right with me was Jack’s blind loyalty to Will’s family, who seem to take advantage of and emotionally manipulate him at every chance they get.  Maybe with more backstory or flashbacks, this would have been more clear.  But aside from that, great as always.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy!

Final rating: ★★★★☆