Friday, February 15, 2019

Seasoned for Stealth

Book Review for “The Chef’s Secret” by Crystal King.

In the 1500s in Italy, there lived a man, Bartolomeo Scappi, who is known to this day as one of Europe’s most creative and talented chefs. Scappi, who died in 1577, rose from being a humble cook to a master who devised elaborate dishes and meals for kings and popes, leaving behind a famous, multi-volume cookbook as an eternal legacy to his art, although little is known of his personal life. The first volume of his book was lovingly dedicated to his nephew Giovanni, and according to author Crystal King, the way he wrote it sounded more like a father writing for his son, than an uncle for his nephew. This must have triggered King’s using this backdrop for this new biographical, historical, fiction novel, which is filled with so many intrigues and deceptions, I’m surprised that King didn’t use a double plural for the title!

Friday, February 8, 2019

My "Hello" to Philip Roth!

Book Review of “Goodbye, Columbus” by Philip Roth.

When I heard of Roth’s passing, I realized that while I knew the name well, and I’d seen some films based on his writings, I never read any of his books. In an attempt to correct that situation, I immediately went looking for some, and came up with a few to buy (second hand), including this collection of a novella and short stories, which was the first one I decided to read.

Now, keeping in mind the fact that this collection was published in 1959 (when I was only two years old – yes, really), I was certainly expecting that not everything here would feel relevant to us today. Mind you, because I’m that old, I also expected to understand more of these stories than much younger audiences. However, with a few minor exceptions, I have to say that I was very much pleasantly surprised to find out how very nicely these stories aged. In fact, there are some stories here that are practically evergreen in their subject matter.

Friday, February 1, 2019

The Tint and the Taint

Book Review of "The Blue" by Nancy Bilyeau.

In the author’s notes of this book, Bilyeau calls this “a spy story set amid the rivalry of eighteenth-century porcelain factories,” in which the author tells the story of Geneviève Planché, who becomes entangled in the intrigue behind discovering a new shade of blue that is also wrapped up in the Seven Year war between France and England during the reigns of Louis XV of France and George II of Britain. Heightening this tension is also the fact that Geneviève, is a Huguenot and therefore an enemy of the country of her own heritage, which forced her family to flee to England before she was born. Finally, there is Geneviève’s desire to become a real artist – a profession barred to women in both France and England. So, when Geneviève receives an offer that would eventually help her achieve her dream, she reluctantly accepts, because that it means she’ll still be relegated to decorating porcelain in Derby. Taking up that position, while spying on the manufactory to steal the color’s formula, is where the intrigue begins, and her discovering the chemist working on that formula, Thomas Sturbridge, also brings a romantic aspect to the whole tale.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday for January 29, 2019


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

The rules are simple:
  • Each Tuesday, Jana assigns a new topic. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want.
  • Everyone is welcome to join but please link back to The Artsy Reader Girl in your own Top Ten Tuesday post.
  • Add your name to the Linky widget on that day’s post so that everyone can check out other bloggers’ lists.
  • Or if you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment.

This week’s topic is The Ten Most Recent Additions to My To-Read List:

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Beauty of Genius

Book Review of “The Only Woman in the Room” by Marie Benedict.

The name Hedy Lamarr might not mean much to many younger people these days, nor will the name Hedwig Kiesler, with or without the additional names of her many husbands. But Hedy Lamarr was a very popular screen and stage actress in Vienna and later, Hollywood from the 1930s through the 1950s. More importantly, something else you may never have heard of was her invention of spread-spectrum technology for frequency hopping. However, this was a precursor for many things I’m sure you have heard of, including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology, as well as GPS. Yes, it is true that a beautiful, glamorous movie star helped invent something that led to things that we use each and every day (not to mention how this same technology has been used by the military with their drones since the Viet Nam War). Unfortunately, almost surely due to the misogyny of the era, her invention went ignored, despite the fact that it could have solved some deadly military problems faced allied forces during WWII. It therefore seems that the story of her life that led to this amazing invention is long overdue, and I’m thrilled that Benedict has done just this in her latest historical, biographical, women’s fiction novel.

Friday, January 18, 2019

7 Centuries and 6 Families of Paris

Book Review of “Paris: The Epic Novel of the City of Lights” by Edward Rutherfurd

Epic is a word that has been bandied about far too often, and putting it into the subtitle of this novel might seem a bit pretentious. However, it is precisely the word that use be used about this book, seeing as it is not only long (my copy had 832 pages), but it also covers several centuries of the history of this amazing city. With this, Edward Rutherfurd has gathered together a small group of families, which he has placed within this backdrop, at various stages ranging from the 1261 all the way through to 1968!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Trash or Treasure Tuesday!

books-1015594_1280 Courtesy of Pixabay

AKA “Down The TBR Hole #1: Conquer your TBR”

My fellow blogger Bookish Rita turned me on to this, which was originally Lia @ Lost in a Story’s idea. The rules are very simple:

  1. Sort your Goodreads to-be-read shelf from oldest to new;
  2. Pick the first 5 or 10 (or whatever number you choose, depending on how large your list is) books you see;
  3. Decide whether to keep them or get rid of them.
With only 101 books on my TBR list, here are last ten I put on my list:

Friday, January 11, 2019

A Female Journalistic Pioneer

Book Review of “What Girls are Good For: A Novel of Nellie Bly” by David Blixt.


Anyone who has studied journalism, or is interested in historical women who were pioneers in their fields, will probably have heard of Nellie Bly, aka Elizabeth Cochrane. Nellie was famous mostly for getting herself admitted to an insane asylum in New York in the late 1880s. Her goal was to find out exactly how the treatment was in these places, and her reports ended up having far-reaching consequences. In this novel, David Blixt gives us some insights into Nellie’s life through a fascinating, biographical, historical fiction account.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Inconvenient Separations

cover152794-mediumBook Review of “Brides in the Sky: Stories and a Novella” by Cary Holladay.

This book is a collection of eight short stories and a novella, which include the following:
  • Brides in the Sky
  • Shades
  • Comanche Queen
  • Fairy Tales
  • Interview with Etta Place, Sweetheart of the Sundance Kid
  • Ghost Walk
  • Operator
  • Hay Season
  • A Thousand Stings – a novella

Friday, December 28, 2018

My Answers to 10 Bookish Questions: “The last book I…”


I found this list of bookish questions via StuckinaBook’s post and thought I’d give it a whirl since it sounded like fun! Here are my replies to these 10 questions.