Yelly Reads

Book change: Practical Magic

Sometimes you find that books are hard to read; sometimes because the pace is not quick enough or sometimes things move on too quickly for you to catch up, or sometimes because there are too many hard truths that you can relate to that reading has become uncomfortable, or sometimes it’s just not exactly the read you expected it to be.  I’m at that stage in reading Us by David Nicholls.  I love it, but I’ve hit a reading wall with it, so I’m putting it down for a while and coming back to it later.

I’ve started on a different book: Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman.  I read it once when I was in a “witchy” phase (chalk it up to taking anthropology and world history in one semester and working on a paper on comparative witchcraft!) but I don’t think I completely appreciated the book when I read it.  I loved the movie though (Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman in one movie with one heck of a soundtrack!).  The movie screenplay is different from the book but nevertheless, I loved the movie and the book.  I’ve started the book again and I am reading it with different (probably more jaded) eyes and a fresh perspective.  I knew why loved it then and I am enjoying it now.

There’s a twist to this as well: I’m reading an actual book!  The action of actually turning a page is priceless.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my Kindle (being able to carry a veritable library in one’s handbag is amazing!) but there is something beautifully interactive with reading an actual book!

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Yelly Reads

Good read: Us

I’ve actually started a new book – yes again!  Someone said that I was a quick reader.  I think it’s a sign that I’m stressed.  Reading is a bit of an escape for me.  I get to stop thinking about things that worry me and I get to wonder about someone else’s issues for a change – and I don’t have to worry.  I just have to read so that I see things unfolding.  It’s a good thing.

I’m reading Us by David Nicholls (he wrote One Day).  It’s about a biochemist whose marriage is failing.  But he and his wife decide that despite the fact that they are going to get a divorce, they go on a trip with their teenaged son and while on the trip, the son disappears.  I haven’t got any further than that though.

The story appeals to me though, because of the sciency bits.  One of the nerdy jokes that got me giggling to myself on the train (no doubt attracting weird looks) was the joke that said “The only acid in this house is deoxyribonucleic acid!”  As the main character is a biochemist, I wasn’t surprised that there was a lot about labs and research.  It made me smile when the Drosophila melanogaster was mentioned along with genetic mapping.  The Drosophila melanogaster is the scientific name for the common fruitfly.  I have first-hand experience with fruitflies because my dad is a geneticist and he was working on a project that involved fruitflies.  Fruitflies are a blight on Philippine mangoes and my dad was attempting to sterilise the fruitflies, so that they only produced female flies.  I don’t really know if my dad was successful, but it was because of this project that Drosophila melanogaster was a big fixture in our life for a very long time.

I’m still reading.  So the jury’s out.  But then again, I did get the book because it was a David Nicholls book and I loved One Day.  I am loving the book so far thought.  More so now because I seem to have found a connection with the main character!

Us by David Nicholls

Yelly Reads

Good read: Fractured

I’m on a reading roll (non-bread, mind!)!  I’ve always had my nose in a book for as long as I can remember, but for the past several years, work has taken over my life.  I’ve been working and spending my non-working hours either baking or resting and completely vegging out (by watching TV).

But I’ve been reading a lot the past few months: I’ve finished the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness (A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night and the Book of Life), the Languedoc Series by Kate Mosse (Citadel, Sepulchre and Citadel), Gillian Flynn’s books (Gone Girl, Dark Places, and Sharp Objects), The Cousins War Series by Philippa Gregory (The White Queen, The Red Queen, The Lady of the Rivers, The King Maker’s Daughter, The White Princess, and the King’s Curse), Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, and Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy by Helen Fielding.  Two weeks ago, I finished Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins.

On Friday, I finished another book.  Continuing on the amnesia-lit theme (Girl On The Train was mostly because the character experiences a sort of amnesia), I started on Fractured last weekend.  The premise was about this girl who has an accident and wakes up from it with a life that’s perfect and far from what she had before she had the accident and what happens after as she tries to figure out why her life is what it is.  Before this book, I’d been lamenting my reading speed.  But considering that I only read on the train after Alan gets off the train on the way to work, and on the way home, I read only until Alan gets home, my reading speed is relatively back to where it used to be.  The only downside is that I’m experiencing a twitching on the left side of my forehead!  My eyebrow and top and bottom eyelids are twitching too.  I’m constantly afraid that people will think I’m winking at them!

Fractured

I’ve got a book lined up for my next read.  It’s called The Book of You by Claire Kendal.  Bring on the daily commute!

But now, I’ve got to make Chinese coconut tarts!  See y’all later!

Yelly Reads

Literary treat!

I’ve had the most amazing Tuesday – no, work was stressful and harried, as usual.  The commute has and will always be a bit fraught.  But all the ickiness of the day fades away when I think about how I met one of my literary heroes today.  The encounter was fleeting but I have a photograph as a memento.

I’ve adored the All Souls’ Trilogy, this trio of books about a witch and a vampire, how they go against all odds to fight for their relationship.  There’s a bit of historical fiction, there’s a lot of talk about love and relationships, and there’s a lot of the supernatural.  But I loved the books.  I love how the stories unfolded and how all the things seemed to really come together and how all loose ends were tied up in the last of the three books.  I thought the writing was brilliant — and that brilliant writer is Deborah Harkness, an American history professor.  I love her books because the historical bits were believable and the fiction was weaved wonderfully with what was factual.  While the melding of fact and fiction was seamless, I thought it gave credit to the reader, I thought the stories didn’t take it for granted that the reader wouldn’t know which part was written for the story and which part was historical and helped set the scene for the story.

I’ve read the books several times now and I follow Deborah Harkness on Twitter.  Nothing a fan girl wouldn’t do hey?  I’m quite pleased to say that I’ve gone a bit further than that.  I’ve actually met one of my literary heroes!  She had a book signing event in Chelmsford and I really couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by.  I had to meet her!

It was quite nice waiting.  I eagerly got there 30 minutes before the event started and expected a huge queue because a lot of people said they were excited she was coming.  I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t such a queue at the time – but on the flip side, I was second in line so I was a happy bunny.  It was also really nice to be able to chat to other people who enjoyed the books as much as I did!

When Deborah Harkness arrived, she said a cheery hello and told us she’d be right with us, that she just needed some peppermint tea.  It reminded me of how much Diana, the heroine of the trilogy, loved strong, almost greasy tea.  Always made me smile because I love strong Yorkshire tea over Earl Grey or English Breakfast.

When DH got settled, she chatted pleasantly to everyone who came and signed all the books that people brought to the table.  I cheekily asked for a photo and she said, “Of course!  By all means, this is why I’m here!”

Me and Deborah Harkness

She signed all my books and they will sit very proudly on my shelf!  I am a VERY happy fan girl!

 

Yelly Reads

The Cake Book Challenge!

I am doing a Julie Powell!  This challenge that I’ve taken on is getting more and more daunting as I think about it.

I have decided to cook through this book:

The Cake Book

It’s a book from Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube series (I also have the BBQ Book too which is excellent!) published by Penguin Books.  The book is called The Cake Book.  The recipes are written by Jemma Wilson who is the wunderkind behind Crumbs & Doilies.  If you’re into street food, you’ll know that C&D offers a really good range of lovely (heavy on the lovely) cupcakes.  I love the mini cupcakes that they offer the most because they are bite-sized pieces of heaven!  And they look so cute and dainty, almost too good-looking to eat.  Almost.  I thought to myself, well, if these are Cupcake Jemma’s recipes, well, they are definitely worth making!

There are 50 recipes in The Cake Book.  There are 26 weeks left in the year.  If I manage 2 recipes each week, I will have cooked through the entire book at the end of the year!  I am thankful that I can bring the cupcakes to work or share them with friends.  Because my blood sugar would not appreciate the increase in sugar intake!

I like that I am in the same situation as Julie Powell was when she started the Julie/Julia project.  I have a full-time job and a long commute at both ends of the day (mind you, I’m not sure how long Julie Powell’s commute was!)!  Am I crazy?  Definitely.  Is this self-inflicted project bigger than I think it is?  Probably.  But am I excited?  You betcha!  There are so many interesting recipes in the book.  I am looking forward to making brittle!  If Julie Powell can do it, so can I!

Yelly Reads

Book du jour: Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously

Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell.  “A culinary legend provides a frustrated office worker a new recipe for life.”

I’ve got the paperback version. 320 pages, size 1.9 x 13.2 x 19.8 cm.  Published by Penguin Books.  That being said, I also have the Kindle version!  But because this is one of my favourite books, I am going to go old style and read the actual book!

I’ve probably read this book at least 9 times.  I’ve watched the movie more!  In fact, as I write this blog entry, it’s on.  Right now.  I’ve got Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci and Amy Adams on my TV screen.

It’s my comfort movie because I watch it whenever I’m home ill.  It fills me with hope that someday, my blog will mean something, that someone will read it and think, “Hey, that girl has something to say and she says it well!”  That is the dream.

I love this book because it’s about someone I can relate to.  I can relate to the experiences and it’s someone who knows about the Bataan Death March (which my grandfather was part of — he was a Philippine World War II veteran)!  Every time I read it, I just smile.  I would love to meet Julie Powell.  I would love to pick her brains.  I would love to say, “How in the world did you manage to start living the dream?!?”

Because that is the dream.  To write.  In my case it’s to write about food.

So I am about to embark into another journey into the world of Julie Powell challenging herself to cook through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  And, oh boy, am I going to enjoy this particular ride.  Again.

Julie_and_julia

Yelly Reads

Welcome back Bridget!

I am still reading Kate Mosse’s Citadel, the last of the Languedoc trilogy but I am so very excited to start the next book that’s on my book list!: Helen Fielding’s much-awaited addition to her Bridget Jones’ series, Mad About the Boy.

The book is now downloaded onto my Kindle and is now waiting for me to read it.

I do know one thing though:  Mark Darcy is dead!

Now before you raise your fist at me, shouting “Spoiler!” this has been discussed to death, with Helen Fielding making appearances on TV shows, ostensibly, to defend her decision to kill off the lovely Mark Darcy.  This was revealed to me by a cousin on Facebook who thought I’d already heard.  Just to underline the point that Mark Darcy’s death was publicized before the book was even released for sale, my cousin lives in the Philippines and she heard before me!

I am struggling with finishing the last installment to Kate Mosse’s trilogy because I am fairly desperate to read about Bridget!  But I am determined to finish Citadel properly and then move on to find out what 51 year old Bridget is up to now.

Fingers crossed I finish Citadel soon, eh?

Helen Fielding's Mad About the Boy

Yelly Reads

College Orientation

I haven’t blogged in a while and I think it’s quite fitting that my next post is about family.

A little family book promotion can’t be bad, can it?  My cousin Karen Bendersky has written a book with Catherine Chastain-Elliot called College Orientation.  It’s available on Amazon on to pre-order and the release date is 01 January 2013.  Amazon describes the book as:

College Orientation targets freshmen entering four-year institutions and is designed for use from college orientation programs until graduation day and beyond. It provides a roadmap for campus staff and faculty offering orientation programs to facilitate behaviors that increase retention, improve four-year graduation rates, and ultimately, reduce student loan debt. Students receive the information they need to adapt to college life and stay on track towards a degree–all the while learning behaviors that promote achievement after graduation. This comprehensive reference tool is written from an insider’s point of view and has a distinct focus on promoting appropriate college conduct. It covers a multitude of topics that help students navigate the university system while learning how to adapt this information to their future workplace.

If you’ve got someone prepping for college or, as they say in the UK, uni, this book might come in handy!

College Orientation by Karen Bendersky