What I read this week: January 25-31

This was a strange week for reading.  My daughter was sick so I read a bit less than usual.  I'm also including a couple of cookbooks that I read this week.  I won't include every cookbook I ever look at on this list of what I'm reading but I will include cookbooks that I read through cover to cover or specifically sought out because of some focus they have that interests me.  I actually flip through a lot of cookbooks but I promise not to overwhelm you with all of that.  

  • Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood by Lisa Damour.   I received this as an ARC through Netgalley. It it scheduled to be released February 9, 2016. I chose to read this book because I will be parenting a teenage daughter in a few years and because I am interested in parenting books and psychology.  Overall I thought this was a good book.  I can already see my 9 year old flirting with some of the seven transitions that the author talks about.  There were moments when some of the things the author describes about raising teenagers felt like such a loss of relationship but the message wasn't all grim.  In many ways I felt like the theme ways: be the adult while your kid is figuring out what that means.


  • Age of Consent by Marti Leimbach.  I received this as an ARC through Netgalley.  It is scheduled to be released July 26, 2016.   I'm sorry to say this, especially because it was an advance copy and I feel like that deserves every effort, but I had to give this one up.  The book opens with a hotel rendezvous between a 14 year old girl and her 29 year old "boyfriend."  He is a jerk and she keeps justifying his behavior to herself and the reader.  I read the synopsis and I gather that later she realizes that he is a nasty predator and she confronts him, possibly in a court of law, but, still, I just couldn't read it.  If you are 14 years old, a 29 year old man is not your boyfriend, he is a rapist.  That is all.


  • This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp.  This novel has been mentioned several times on the All the Books podcast so I finally requested it from my library.  I'm glad I did!  The entirety of this young adult novel takes place in 54 minutes.  It opens with the end of a start of semester assembly and students attempted to exit the auditorium.  It soon becomes clear that all exits are blockaded.  Then the gunman enters.  What follows is a nearly minute by minute account of a school shooting told from the point of view of 4 people in different locations and with different connections to each other and to the shooter himself.  I thought this was a well told story.  It does rely on some of the same old conventions about school shootings so don't expect anything that will suddenly clarify why they happen.   This is Marieke Nijkamp's first novel and I will be interested to see what she writes next.  I also think it is interesting to note that Nijkamp is an executive director of We Need Diverse Books, a grassroots organization of children's book lovers that exists to advocate, produce and promote diverse literature for young people.  This is a cause that I appreciate and I noticed that the author did include diverse characters in non-stereotypical, non-forced ways in this novels.  Good for her!


  • The Restaurant Critic's Wife by Elizabeth LaBan.  On the first and most intense day of my daughter's illness, I needed something to read that did not require a lot of brain power (that means something I could read while caring for her and also while sitting with her when she watched a ton of House Hunters).  I found this novel in the Kindle Lending Library and it fit the bill.  It was quick and it was basically entertaining.  The main character is married to newspaper restaurant critic (hence the title) and I did enjoy the food descriptions and such.  I thought the challenges of moving to a new city where you know no one were aptly described.  I also thought some of the main characters feelings about new motherhood were realistic.  However, I hated the husband.  He was self involved and selfish.  He was unreasonable and, honestly, delusional.  And all of that behavior could have been dealt with but the main character basically ignored it and allowed her husband to treat her in highly unreasonable ways.  By the end of the book she basically decided that her husband was right in his unreasonableness and changed herself to accommodate his selfishness.  I could not stand it.


  • Good Food, Good Life by Curtis Stone.  You may have heard of Curtis Stone.  I've seen him on the Food Network and on morning shows from time to time.  He is the one with the cute Australian accent.  This is, I think, his 6th cookbook.  I like his recipes fairly well.  In general his recipes are veggie-heavy and don't use a lot of obscure ingredients.  That is helpful to me: I live in the middle of nowhere so some less common ingredients are more difficult for me to source.    This book had nice pictures and commentary on the recipes but for some reason, none of them really grabbed me.  I didn't make any of the recipes, which is unusual for me, I can usually find at least one appealing recipe in any cookbook.  I don't think this cookbook is unappealing, I just think the recipes seem more like warm weather food.  I may revisit this one in the summer.


  • Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan.  I love to can.  There is something so wonderful about filling jars with summer-y goodness and then opening them in the dead of winter.  There is something so gratifying about opening the cupboard to row upon row of provisions.  This canning cookbook is glorious.  I checked it out from the library but I will be purchasing my own copy because nearly every recipe is one I want to try.  I read through this book and made lists of the things I should plant so that I can put it up later.  I love that they are mostly small batch recipes.  This is especially nice for jams, chutneys and relishes.  I mean, gingery pickled beets sound heavenly but I doubt we need more than a few pints (especially since that's one thing I'll be eating by myself).  If there are any other canning aficionados  reading this, Food in Jars is definitely a book to add to your collection.


  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond.  I received this as and ARC from Netgalley.  It is scheduled to be released on March 1, 2016.  You are probably going to want to read this, especially if you have any interest in sociology/ causes and effects of poverty/ etc.  This book tells the stories of 8 families in and around Milwaukee but, honestly, place doesn't matter.  The stories would be similar in any American city.  Matthew Desmond tells that eviction used to be incredibly rare and met by neighborhood protests.  Today, most lower income families are spending more than half their income on rent and face eviction with alarming regularity.  In one instance described in this book, a family couldn't pay both the rent and the electric bill so they would stay current on the rent during the winter months (when it is illegal to issue shut off notices in Milwaukee) and then during the summer months they would pay the electric bill so that the next winter they could take advantage of the no-shut off rule again.  The book surprisingly, is beautiful.  I expected to hate the landlords but, honestly, they are depicted, for the most part, as caring but clear-eyed.  And the tenants, basically, as people caught in a cycle that they can't seem to escape.  I really enjoyed this book.


That's it for this week.  Up next is Running: A Love Story by Jen A Miller, Night Driving by Addie Zierman, Out of the House of Bread by Preston Yancey, and surely something fiction!