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Search tags: year-of-yes
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review 2018-02-14 22:17
The Sin Eater's Daughter - Melinda Salisbury
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review 2018-02-14 17:33
That one time you had a work-study visa in Europe and spent all your time drinking instead of sightseeing (+time travel)
Paris Adrift - E.J. Swift

Disclaimer: reviewing uncorrected digital proof via NetGalley


"Adrift" is apt: the author took on a challenging format and offers some true excellence in character writing and worldbuilding, but the experience of reading this book is, for better or worse, as if you're just as adrift, confused, and purposeless as main character Hallie.

Hallie's doing the dissipated youth finding herself routine in Paris. But before we find that out, we have to wade through some future revolutionary setup with time-travellers who want to go back and change the past to resolve the blighted dystopian future they're living in. This is the frame story and the plot, but Hallie doesn't figure out where she fits into it until extremely late in the game. Instead, she's working and drinking her life away in a bar, hanging out with people who do the same, and - unwillingly at first - hopping through time in the cellar.


There's a lot to like at a technical level. Swift conveys that dreamy/nightmarish feeling and atmosphere of being 20-something and finding your group on the road, living in the moment, but with an uneasy awareness that the moment must pass and you're more than where you're stuck now. Paris and the group of international workers at Hallie's bar are conveyed with detailed world-building excellence, including what (as far as my limited French can tell) is accurate and characteristic uses of French.


If you think of this as a literary novel, it deserves a high rating. Dreamy, evocative, endlessly confusing, but in a way that hints at careful construction, it's an effective deep-dive into character. But the frame story plot lags as Hallie finds herself, and there are too many mysteries held for too long for it to be effective as a genre work. If you need fast, thriller pacing, spicy romance, or intricate and engage SFF goings-on to enjoy a book, this is not the story for you. If you're happy to invest some time, drift through the story, and maybe reminisce about (or look forward to) your own dissipated youthful travels, this offers much to appreciate. Just sit back and let it flow.

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review 2018-02-12 18:37
Out in Blue Fields: A Year at Hokum Rock Blueberry Farm by Janice Riley
Out in Blue Fields: A Year at Hokum Rock Blueberry Farm - Janice Riley,Stephen Spear This book is filled with everything Blueberry. It has tons of stunning pictures. Yes stunning and blueberries do not always go together when speaking of photos but in this case they do. There are pictures of the flowers before the berry forms, there are pictures of the bushes covered in snow, and there are pictures of the farm with the amazing backdrop of the forest behind it. The book chronicles a year of cultivating blueberries on Cape Cod's Hokum Rock Farm. Stephen Spear's family has owned the Hokum Rock Farm since 1973 and began cultivating blueberries exclusively in 1986, selling thousands of pints each season. Along with the photos is the history of cultivation, an autobiography, thoughts, feelings, and so much more. You get an in depth look at the family and of blueberries, and my favorite part recipes. I received this book from the Author or Publisher via Netgalley.com to read and review.
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review 2018-02-10 20:02
Out May 8. 2018
Milk!: A 10,000-Year Food Fracas - Mark Kurlansky

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley


                I have to have milk with breakfast unless I am getting breakfast at work.  But at home, a glass milk, cold milk, and then coffee.  I need that nice cool glass of milk.


                But I didn’t know much about milk until I read this book.


                Kurlansky’s book is a tour of milk in history, but also a tour of yogurt, cheese, and ice cream. 


                And it has recipes!


                Kurlansky starts with ancient history, exploring when milking first developed as well as pointing out that being lactose intolerant is actually the biological norm and those of us who aren’t are freaks.  He also notes the belief that where the milk came from was important – in short, there was a reason why Zeus couldn’t keep it in his tunic.  There are interesting discussions about whether milk was a meat and why butter stinker is an insult.


                I also learned that aurochsen is the correct plural for more than one auroch.


                The book doesn’t just focus on Europe and America.  In fact, Asia (and not just India) gets much attention.  Perhaps the Southern hemisphere doesn’t get as much attention, though Australia gets covered.


                What is most interesting is how Kurlansky shows how certain debates keep recurring, for instance breast-feeding, which he links to the idea of men trying to control women’s bodies.  This makes sense when you think about it, not only in terms of child rearing but also in terms of what a woman can do.  The bit about the sexy milkmaid also makes sense too, come to think of it.


                There are few weak points in the book.  The one that sticks out the most are the cow illustrations.  Now, look, the illustrations are far, far better than what I could do, but in general even though the drawings are of different breeds of cows, the illustrations are pretty interchangeable.  Still, far better than what I could do.


                The other weak part is the almost lack of science.  But this seems to be because different studies contradict each other.  Yet, one did want a little more scientific fact, if possible, about the contradicting claims.  To be fair, Kurlansky is brutally honest about how a dairy farm works.


                These flaws aside, the book is charming.  You can learn all sorts of facts about ice cream, milk, and ice cream.


                Did I say ice cream twice?


                For instance, the inventor of the hand cranked ice cream maker (Nancy Johnson) and the where the soda fountain was invented, and the fact that Philadelphia is “a city that liked to brand its food”.  The focus on ice cream is more on the idea and popularity, with more detail given to smaller businesses than bigger ones such Breyers.


                I haven’t tried any of the recipes, though many of them do look quite good and yummy.

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review 2018-02-09 02:24
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Next Year in Havana - Chanel Cleeton

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

This was such a lovely story! I have to admit that the beautiful cover of this book is what first caught my attention. Once I took a closer look, I decided to give it a try since the story sounded really interesting. The book ended up being more than interesting. I was swept away by the story and felt Cuba come alive within the pages. I am so glad that I decided to give this book a try.

This story is told in two timelines. Marisol's story is set in 2017 shortly after her grandmother's death. She goes to Cuba to see the country where her grandmother grew up and find the right place to spread her ashes. Elisa is Marisol's grandmother. Her story is set in 1958 as Cuba is in crisis. I really enjoyed both of the timelines equally and loved how everything came together.

I really liked the characters in this book. Elisa and her family were in a very difficult situation. The fact that Elisa and two of her sisters were young adults trying to find their place in the world only made things more difficult for them. Elisa was willing to following her emotions even when she knew it may not be the safe choice. I could really feel all of her struggle as she tries to figure out what to do.

Marisol was very close to her grandmother and is eager to see the Cuba she has heard so much about. I liked Marisol right away. I liked how she took her responsibility to carry out her grandmother's wishes so seriously and wanted to learn more about her life in Cuba. I thought that all of the secondary characters were very well done in the story as well.

I think that the setting of this book really helped it stand out. I have read very little of Cuba and am a bit ashamed by how little I really know of the country. I felt like Cuba came alive in the pages of this book. The setting really almost became a character in the book. The descriptions were so vivid that I really felt that I could close my eyes and see the things that the characters saw.

The mystery of the story really kept my interest. I wanted to know what had happened to Elisa all those years ago and was eager to learn what Marisol would find. I was equally interested in seeing how the events in the book would impact Marisol's life. There were a few twists along the way and enough excitement to keep the pages turning.

I would highly recommend this book to others. I thought that this book told a remarkable story that will stay with me for a long time. This was the first book by Chanel Cleeton that I have had the chance to read and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
This really was a wonderful book. This is a story about family, hertiage, and love. It is told in two different time periods through the lives of Marisol and her grandmother, Elisa. I loved the way that this book brought Cuba to life along with the characters. The writing was just as beautiful as the cover of this delightful novel.

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