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Monday, October 27, 2014

The Lost Tribe of Coney Island: Headhunters, Luna Park, and the Man Who Pulled Off the Spectacle of the Century by Claire Prentice

The Lost Tribe of Coney Island: Headhunters, Luna Park, and the Man Who Pulled Off the Spectacle of the Century

The Lost Tribe of Coney Island: Headhunters, Luna Park, and the Man Who Pulled Off the Spectacle of the Century by Claire Prentice

I don't know anything about Coney Island, or the Igorrotes - "a group of “headhunting, dog-eating savages” from the Philippines, who were transported to New York in 1905 to appear as “human exhibits” alongside the freaks and curiosities at Coney Island’s Luna Park."

But I was curious to learn more about amusement parks after reading Joyland by Stephen King. Of course, this book was more about the Igorrotes, than amusement parks... you could tell the author did a lot of research on the topic, and that it wasn't easy to piece everything together.

Overall it wasn't a bad read - maybe a little bit long as I really just wanted to find out what happened to the Igorrotes but there was quite a bit of history in between. I also appreciated that the author did a wrap up of what's happened to the different characters in the end. The story also make me think about the "cultural" tours I'd enjoyed - visiting the Amish village or the Native Canadian Indians village... is it right to visit these sights?



This is part of the TLC tour - check out the other tour stops!

Claire Prentice’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, October 13th: Sophisticated Dorkiness
Monday, October 13th: Booksie’s Blog
Tuesday, October 14th: Kahakai Kitchen
Tuesday, October 14th: Time 2 Read
Wednesday, October 15th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, October 20th: Wordsmithonia
Tuesday, October 21st: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Wednesday, October 22nd: She Treads Softly
Thursday, October 23rd: 50 Book Project
Thursday, October 23rd:  Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Friday, October 24th:  Dwell in Possibility
Monday, October 27th: BookNAround
Monday, October 27th:  Mental Foodie
Tuesday, October 28th:  girlichef
Tuesday, October 28th:  Lisa’s Yarns
Wednesday, October 29th: A Bookish Affair

Note - A free advanced copy of the book was given in exchange of an unbiased review as part of the TLC tour.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Updates


Wow I haven't updated in forever.

I have been reading (you can see my 2014 list here). I'd been busy with work and family still, and this year my guilty pleasure had been novels written in Chinese (as opposed to YA in the past), mostly by the same author who wrote about relationships. I don't know if there is any point in doing reviews of them since her books aren't translated.

Most of the English books were just average. There were some fun reads, but none of them made me felt like shouting "GO READ THIS NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" so I didn't feel motivated to blog.

So I am wondering what I should do with my blog... only blog when I found something that falls into the "recommend to everyone" category? Just blog random thoughts? Is there anyone who is even interested in reading my boring random thoughts - I don't even have a twitter account because well, my life isn't that interest to update every 2 minutes.

Any "GO READ THIS NOW" books you've come across lately?! I'm so out of the whole new books world...



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Book Review - The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin


The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Not something I'd have picked up by myself (title and cover both aren't very... pick-worthy... ) but thanks to other bloggers, I'm glad I read this :)

I bet pretty much all of you would enjoy reading this charming story - it's about an independent bookstore owner (A.J. Fikry) and his family and friends... and people who love to read! There are quite a few references to other books and authors in the book, including Jeffery Deaver lol :)

I thought the ending was a little quiet, but I suppose it is fitting to A.J.'s personality. I thought I'd get a bit more emotional when reading this, but I didn't.

3.75 Stars but bumped to 4 Stars because it leaves an impression, more so than other novels I'd read this year.

Some quotes -

You're a good reader, and you'll probably see it coming. (Is a twist less satisfying if you know it's coming? Is a twist that you can't predict symptomatic of bad construction? These are things to consider when writing.) (p160)

We read to know we're not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone. (p249)

We are not quite novels... We are not quite short stories... In the end, we are collected works.. He has read enough to know there are no collections where each story is perfect. Some hits. Some misses. If you're lucky, a standout. And in the end, people only really remember the standouts anyway, and they don't remember those for very long. (p249)





Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Book Review - The Skin Collector (Lincoln Rhyme #11) by Jeffery Deaver

The Skin Collector  (Lincoln Rhyme, #11)




The Skin Collector (Lincoln Rhyme #11) by Jeffery Deaver

Readers who had been following this blog probably knows that Jeffery Deaver is one of my favorite authors in the murder/mystery genre, especially with his Lincoln Rhyme series. The Bone Collector is probably his best known novel, and this is a sequel of sort (well it's not really a continuation of the story, but references were made quite a bit).

I was going to re-read The Bone Collector (even if I hardly re-read) but the library copy came before I had a chance to. I hardly remember what happened... but that's okay.

This is more like a 3.75 Stars book but I'd bump it up to 4 because this is better than the other recent Deaver efforts. There probably isn't as much character development as I'd have liked, but most of the characters are like old friends anyway, so I appreciate Deaver didn't make too many redundant introductions; though it still has enough details for those who hadn't read the series before. I did enjoy reading this - with lots of twists and turns that I didn't see coming. At least something fun to read when I don't have to use my brain too much :)


Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Book Review - The Manufactured Identity (Manufactured Identity #1) by Heath Sommer

The Manufactured Identity (Manufactured Identity, #1)

The Manufactured Identity (Manufactured Identity #1) by Heath Sommer

This book was highly recommended by a fellow blogger, Tea Time with Marce, so I had pretty high expectation! Maybe because of that, this book fell short... I like the plot twists (I was able to guess one twist, but not the subplot twist, so that was a good surprise) but I felt there wasn't a lot of character development so I wasn't attached to any characters. Nor did I feel much emotion about any of the characters.

Not sure if I would continue to the next book or not - I read the brief description, and it seems like 2 characters from the first book - whom I didn't think were really the main protagonists - would be the focus of the series. Tell me if I should read #2?

3 Stars


Note - I won a free copy of this book.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Book Review - The Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1) by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1)




The Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1) by Graeme Simsion

Quirky and cute. It made reading fun! I really enjoyed the characters and kept wondering what'd happen. It reminds me a bit of Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, but maybe a bit more light-hearted.

The only thing I wasn't too sure about is its ending... (see spoiler alert below) - if I'd liked the ending, this would probably have been a 4-4.5 book. As of now, it's more of a 3.75 but I'll bump it up to 4 just because this book stands out more than the other meh-reads I'd had.. I heard that there's a Book 2 coming out... will definitely watch for it!

4 Stars





SPOILER ALERT
(highlight the paragraph to read)

I wish the ending isn't so predictable. It makes it a bit too chicklit-ish. I think if it didn't have a happy ending (as in, if they didn't get married), or have a bit more of a surprise ending, it'd have make it more memorable. I suppose though, if the ending is different, then Book 2 would also be different... 

[/Spoiler]

Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

In the end, we'll all become stories.




Saw this on facebook... isn't it the truth.


All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Margot by Jillian Cantor

Margot

Margot by Jillian Cantor

From Goodreads:

Anne Frank has long been a symbol of bravery and hope, but there were two sisters hidden in the annex, two young Jewish girls, one a cultural icon made famous by her published diary and the other, nearly forgotten.

In the spring of 1959, The Diary of Anne Frank has just come to the silver screen to great acclaim, and a young woman named Margie Franklin is working in Philadelphia as a secretary at a Jewish law firm. On the surface she lives a quiet life, but Margie has a secret: a life she once lived, a past and a religion she has denied, and a family and a country she left behind.

Margie Franklin is really Margot Frank, older sister of Anne, who did not die in Bergen-Belsen as reported, but who instead escaped the Nazis for America. But now, as her sister becomes a global icon, Margie’s carefully constructed American life begins to fall apart. A new relationship threatens to overtake the young love that sustained her during the war, and her past and present begin to collide. Margie is forced to come to terms with Margot, with the people she loved, and with a life swept up into the course of history.


Many of us probably have read The Diary of Anne Frank (I read the Chinese version when I was a kid). But what if her sister is still alive?

Interesting premise huh. It was just an okay read  - I think there is so much potential, but this read a bit more like a chicklit than what I was expecting.

Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Night Film


Night Film by Marisha Pessl 

From Goodreads:
NEW YORK TIMES bestseller and Goodreads Choice Award Nominee! 

A page-turning thriller for readers of Stephen King, Gillian Flynn, and Stieg Larsson, Night Film tells the haunting story of a journalist who becomes obsessed with the mysterious death of a troubled prodigy—the daughter of an iconic, reclusive filmmaker.
On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova—a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.
For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself.
Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world.
The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more.
Night Film, the gorgeously written, spellbinding new novel by the dazzlingly inventive Marisha Pessl, will hold you in suspense until you turn the final page.




I was excited to read this book as it sounds very intriguing. I was drawn into the mystery, and really wanted to find out what happened. 


It would have been a better book if (1) it's shorter and more concise - I found myself skimping through parts of it (2) has a tidier ending - and I am not the only who felt like, "wait, what happened...?"


For some reasons, I think this will actually make a better movie than a book. 



Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

2 months?!

Wow has it really been 2 months since I last posted?!

Work has been crazy busy... hence my silence.

I am now also behind on reviews - by 4 fiction and 3 graphic novels (a series).

Hopefully I will have the energy to post soon. Was going to do one or two today, but got a cold so I'm taking it easy instead...

Hope everyone is doing well! The long winter is killing me here... I really can't wait till spring!



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Book Review - The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty


The Husband's Secret

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

I saw that this book made it to many blogger's Top 10 in 2013. I had read her other book, What Alice Forgot (see review here) and liked it okay, thinking it'd be a stronger story if it was shorter.

I have the exact feedback for this book - at almost 400 pages, it was just a bit too long. I do like the story better than What Alice Forgot, as I enjoyed discovering how the three seemingly unrelated characters intertwined in the story. There are also many "what if" questions that made you wonder how you'd react, such as - [POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD] Would you open a letter written by your husband now or later, if you were supposed to open it upon his death? What would you do if your daughter was murdered and the killer was never found? What if your husband and best friend fall in love? [/SPOILER]

This book is still a bit chicklity and once again, it reconfirms that it's not really my genre (I don't know why I keep trying). Not the worst I'd read though. But like most books in this genre, it was a little predictable and I was able to guess the husband's secret early. Thus I think some tighter editing and maybe a little less foreshadowing would turn this into a better read.

3.5 Stars.


Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Book Review - Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky


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Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky

I like reading about other occupations. So when someone said they enjoyed reading this book about a guy who worked in hospitality, I thought it'd be a fun read, especially since I enjoy traveling (which means, mostly staying at hotels).

I was a little disappointed that the author had only worked at a couple of hotels, though he did work in a few different positions from valet to front desk to manage of housekeeping. There were some good to know do's and don'ts for guests (especially if you want "free" upgrades), and made you appreciate the hard job the staff has to do (especially for housekeeping!) But I don't know if this needs to be a full book size as I got a bit bored in the middle.

Not bad, but not the best memoir out there. 3 Stars.



Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Books Read in 2014


Will be updated throughout the year.
What I'd read in the past years: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008. (Reviews started in 2010)
Wow, I've blogged for 4 years as I started in Jan 2010! Totally forget about that.

Fiction:

  1. My Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty (3.5 Stars)
  2. Night Film by Marisha Pessl (3.5 Stars)
  3. Margot by Jillian Cantor (3 Stars)
  4. The Manufactured Identity (Manufactured Identity #1) by Heath Sommer (3 Stars)
  5. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (4 Stars)
  6. The Color of Earth (Color Trilogy, #1) by Kim Dong Hwa (3.5 Stars)
  7. The Color of Water (Color Trilogy, #2) by Kim Dong Hwa (3 Stars)
  8. The Color of Heaven Color Trilogy, #3) by Kim Dong Hwa (3.5 Stars)
  9. What I had Before I had You by Sarah Cornwell (3 Stars)
  10. The Forever Girl by Alexander McCall Smith (2 Stars)
  11. The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag (4 Stars)
  12. Boy Snow Bird by Helen Oyeyemi (2 Stars)
  13. That Part was True by Deborah McKinley (4 Stars)
  14. Arranged by Catherine McKenzie (3 Stars)
  15. Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett (3.5 Stars)
  16. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo (3.5 Stars)
  17. The Skin Collector (Lincoln Rhyme #11)by Jeffery Deaver (4 Stars)
  18. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikryby Gabrielle Zevin (4 Stars)
  19. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (5 Stars)
  20.  Chemistry for Beginners by Anthony Strong (4 Stars)
  21. Thirty Rooms to Hide In: Insanity, Addiction, and Rock 'n' Roll in the Shadow of the Mayo Clinic by Luke Longstreet Sullivan (3 Stars)
  22. We Were Liars by e Lockhart (3.5 Stars)
  23. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (3 Stars)
  24. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (3 Stars)
  25. The Magician's Elephantby Kate DiCamillo (2 Stars)
  26. Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok (3.5 Stars)
  27. All the Light We Cannot Seeby Anthony Doerr (3 Stars)
  28. Made for You by Melissa Marr (3 Stars)
  29. One Plus Oneby Jojo Moyes (2.5 Stars)
  30. Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer (3.5 Stars)
  31. Afterworlds by Westerfeld (2 Stars)
  32. Where There's Smoke by Jodi Picoult (2 Stars)
  33. Points and Lines by Seicho Matsumoto (4 Stars)
  34. 早上七八點鐘的太陽/ 亦舒 (3.5 Stars)
  35. 吻所有女孩 by 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  36. 她的二三事 by 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  37. 同門 by 亦舒 (4 Stars)
  38. 紫色平原by 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  39. 我倆不是朋友 by 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  40. 四部曲 by 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  41. 大君 by 亦舒 (3.5 Stars)
  42. 櫻唇 by 亦舒 (3.5 Stars)
  43. 迷藏 by 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  44. 禁足 by 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  45. 噓 by 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  46. 特首小姐你早 by 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  47. 剪刀替針做媒人 by 亦舒 (3.5 Stars)
  48. 雪肌 by 亦舒 (3.5 Stars)
  49. 漫長迂迴的路 by 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  50. 電光幻影 by 亦舒 (3.5 Stars)
  51. 愛情只是古老傳說 by 亦舒 (4 Stars)
  52. 忘記他(短篇)by 亦舒 (3.5 Stars)
  53. 你的素心 by 亦舒 (3.5 Stars)
  54. 蜜糖只有你 by 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  55. 靈心 by 亦舒 (4 Stars)
  56. 畫皮/ 亦舒 (4 Stars)
  57. 被愛,卻孤獨 by 橘子 (3 Stars)
  58. 朝花夕拾 by 亦舒 (5 Stars) ISBN: 9787510400681
  59. 外遇 by亦舒 (4 Stars)
  60. 流金歲月 /. Liu jin sui yue/ 亦舒 (3 Stars)
  61. 實在平凡的奇異遭遇  by  亦舒 (3.5 Stars)
  62. 尋找失貓 by 亦舒 (4 Stars) - short stories
  63. 悄悄的一線光 by 亦舒 (3.5 Stars)
  64. 我情願跳舞 by 亦舒 (3.5 Stars)
  65. 月是故鄉明 by 亦舒 (2.5 Stars) - essay
  66. 如果你是安琪 by 亦舒 (4 Stars) - short stories
  67. 黑夜旋律 by 譚劍 (3.5 Stars) 
  68. The Red Finger by Higashino Keigo 紅色手指 by 東野圭吾 (3.5 Stars)
  69. In the City of Dawn by Higashino Keigo 黎明破曉的街道 by 東野圭吾 (3.5 Stars)
  70. The deceased drank the water by Soji Shimada 死者喝的水 by 島田莊司 (3.5 Stars)
  71. 長相思(卷一):孤月下,許君心 by 桐華
  72. 長相思 (卷二) : 人依舊,終離別. by 桐華
  73. 長相思 (卷三): 思一寸,愁千縷 by 桐華
  74. 長相思(卷四): 笑問月,誰與共 by 桐華
  75. 長相思(卷五):生相依,死相隨 by 桐華
  76. 長相思(卷六): 長相守,不分離 by 桐華. 
  77. 死愛恨一念間 by 劉墉 (3.5 Stars) CH 895.14L7406s



Non-Fiction:

  1. Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky (3 Stars)
  2. The Shibumi Strategy: A Powerful Way to Create Meaningful Change by Matthew May (3 Stars)
  3. The Lost Tribe of Coney Island: Headhunters, Luna Park, and the Man Who Pulled Off the Spectacle of the Century by Claire Prentice (3 Stars)
  4. Still Life in Watercolour by David Webb, Ray Campbell Smith (4 Stars) - beginner
  5. 金庸小說版本追昔 by 陳鎮輝 (1.5 Stars)


Graphic Novel:

  1. I love you, How about you? 你愛我嗎?張小嫻.水瓶鯨魚

Children's Books:

  1. Brady Needs a Nightlight by Brian Barlics


Did Not Finish (DNF) - Fiction:

  1. 鬼打牆 1 and 2:剝皮女屍 by 天下霸唱 
  2. The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley
  3. The Circle by Dave Eggers


Did Not Finish (DNF) - Non-Fiction:

  1. I Want to Be Her!: How Friends and Strangers Helped Shape My Style by Andrea Linett, Anne Johnston Albert









All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

KID Book Review: Brady Needs a Nightlight by Brian Barlics

Brady Needs a Nightlight

Brady Needs a Nightlight by Brian Barlics

Normally I don't read children books... but of course after my son is born, I have to start! He seems to be interested in books so far - at least he thinks they are yummy since he keeps chewing on them! Though lately he likes flipping the books by himself, even if I am not around. And I note that he even knows to turn the book right side up all by himself!

When TLC Tour asked if I want to review this book, I agreed as I don't know anything about children books. As a child, I read mostly children books in Chinese, so apart from a few famous ones in English (some of the translated into Chinese), I just don't even know where to start. (And nope, I didn't read any Dr Seuss until the last 1.5 years!)

This is a very cute book - I mean, Brady is a bat, but he is not at all spooky or scary! The illustrations were nicely done by Gregory Burgess Jones, and I like the verse (I like verses that rhyme! So much more fun to read out loud). Plus I like fireflies - seem how cute that one on the cover is?

I think when my son gets older, especially when/if he starts getting scared in the dark, this would be a fun and useful book to read together! Even if he have this fear, this is a still great bedtime story too.

Fun fact - the author is also a Pediatrician!



Don't forget to check out the other tours!

Brian Barlics’ TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, January 6th:  Savvy Verse and Wit
Tuesday, January 7th:  Allison’s Book Bag
Tuesday, January 7th:  Mental Foodie
Wednesday, January 8th:  Book Dilettante
Thursday, January 9th:  Cherry Blossoms
Friday, January 10th:  Not in Jersey
Monday, January 13th:  Read Lately
Tuesday, January 14th:  Sweet Southern Home
Wednesday, January 15th:  Simply Stacie
Thursday, January 16th:  Melissa Northway
Friday, January 17th:  Cheryl’s Book Nook
Monday, January 20th:  Babblin’ Brooke
Tuesday, January 21st:  Musings by Maureen
Wednesday, January 22nd:  Quirky Bookworm
Thursday, January 23rd:  Red Headed Book Child
Monday, January 27th:  Patricia’s Wisdom

Note - Received a free copy from TLC Tour in exchange for an unbiased review.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013... onto 2014

Happy New Year!!

45.

I am surprised that I actually read 45 books this year (I thought I read less). 32 Fiction and 13 Non-Fiction (including 2 graphic non-fiction). In 2012, I read 29 books. I am still way behind to my usual 100 books a year. Hey, if I count all the kid books I'd read...

5 Did Not Finish (all fiction).

To be honest, even though I'd marked a few books as 4 Stars or 4.5 Stars, none of them really jumped out to me so much that made me wanted to recommend it to everyone (remember Still Alice? The Help? Human Bobby?)

Don't get me wrong, i enjoyed them, but they were not that life-changing. I suppose the two 4.5 Stars books - my two top rated ones - did have a bit of an impact. But they just didn't make me go wow.

For 2014, I decided that I need to read more books that'd INSPIRE me. Be they fiction or non-fiction. I guess I just didn't quite feel inspired this year. I have already borrowed a bunch of books from the library (oops, I wasn't supposed to!) so hopefully they'd be a good start! And really, I'd just keep on being a mood reader, and pick whatever that strikes my mood.

The book I'm reading right now is The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty. I didn't mean to pick this as my first book (I had another book in mind), but this was actually the last book I started in 2013, and hope I'd finish before the new year...

I did manage to blog every book I read in 2013, so I am happy about that! I want to keep this goal in 2014. Hopefully I can be a bit more active in blogging non-book related posts too, but I just feel a bit weird posting more personal stuff here since this is primarily a book blog. And being an introvert, I just didn't think my life is that interesting that others would want to read about it (no twitter here) :p

Want to know what books I'd read in 2013 and how they were rated? Click here. You can see links to each review there too.

How about you? Do you have any plans on what you wish to read this year?

By the way, if you have any books that inspire you, I'd love to hear about them. Please! :)



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Book Review - Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

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Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

A vibrant, food-themed memoir from beloved indie cartoonist Lucy Knisley.

Lucy Knisley loves food. The daughter of a chef and a
gourmet, this talented young cartoonist comes by her
obsession honestly. In her forthright, thoughtful, and
funny memoir, Lucy traces key episodes in her life thus
far, framed by what she was eating at the time and lessons
learned about food, cooking, and life. Each chapter is
bookended with an illustrated recipe—many of them
treasured family dishes, and a few of them Lucy's original
inventions.

A welcome read for anyone who ever felt more passion
for a sandwich than is strictly speaking proper, Relish is a
book for our time: it invites the reader to celebrate food
as a connection to our bodies and a connection to the
earth, rather than an enemy, a co
mpulsion, or a
consumer product.


I love reading about food. I love reading memoir. But I haven't read a lot of graphic novels, but I am very glad I read this!

This is a refreshing and cute book. And the author/artist reminded me of myself a bit, especially with her views on food - she loves the exotic/gourmet food, but her guilty pleasure is French fries from McDonalds... yes I know they are bad for you but they are probably one of my favorite fries (given that I only eat them once a year at most, I don't feel so bad about it...) The biggest difference between us is that she actually cooks/bakes in the kitchen, while I dream that I can.

It was fun to read about her relationships with her parents and their impact on her regarding food. Her other stories about food and friends are also heartwarming. At the end of each chapter there are also recipes she drawn - very cool.

My favorite though, has to be the last chapter when she drew about her behind-the-scene experience at one of the best restaurants in the US (if not the world) - Alinea in Chicago. If there's just ONE restaurant I can try in the US, this is where I'd pick (read about the memoir written by the chef and business partner of Alinea I'd reviewed earlier here). Apparently she got invited to the kitchen after one of the owners saw her drawings about her actual eating experience at the restaurant (which I want to read!!). I was so jealous that she got to see the action! Though it seems there were equal amount of cooking and cleaning back there - which is good... who wants to eat from a dirty kitchen?

4 Stars (this is more like 4.25... not quite 4.5 because it just lacks a bit of depth, but it was a very enjoyable read nevertheless.)


Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Book Review - My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf


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Book Review - My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

From Goodreads:
You only think you know this story. In 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer—the most notorious serial killer since Jack the Ripper—seared himself into the American consciousness. To the public, Dahmer was a monster who committed unthinkable atrocities. To Derf Backderf, “Jeff” was a much more complex figure: a high school friend with whom he had shared classrooms, hallways, and car rides. 
In My Friend Dahmer, a haunting and original graphic novel, writer-artist Backderf creates a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a disturbed young man struggling against the morbid urges emanating from the deep recesses of his psyche—a shy kid, a teenage alcoholic, and a goofball who never quite fit in with his classmates. With profound insight, what emerges is a Jeffrey Dahmer that few ever really knew, and one readers will never forget.




I am quite fascinated by true crimes and serial killers - what makes them tick and why they kill. So when I heard about this from another blog, I quickly added it to my TBR. Because I'd been very busy lately, I thought I'd end the year with something light - not the subject matter of course, but that I'd read graphic novels instead.

Sometime between 1996 and 2002, I read a book on Jeffery Dahmer - I didn't blog back then obviously so I do not remember much about it apart from some of the sickening details of his crimes. This book gave us a glimpse of what he was like in high school, which may or may not have provided some insight on why he did what he did. 

The author/artist, who went to school with Dahmer, did say so in the beginning that "pity him, but don't empathize with him" (p11.) I agreed with his sentiments - you kinda wondered "what if"... but it really didn't excuse all his wrongdoings.

The author/artist also did some research to fill in the holes of the story - mainly with stories and interviews from the media (interviews with Dahmer and his parents etc), as well as memories of a few who went to school together. It was quite an interesting to read his research/reference notes at the end, which I appreciated. 

I would have to say though, the title, "My Friend Dahmer" is a little bit misleading because I really did not think they were friends. Acquaintance,  yes. Friends, no. Dahmer was more his (and his actual friends') object of amusement. Though it seemed like Dahmer did enjoy the short-lived "friendship, probably because that was one of the few occasions where someone would pay attention and talk to him, even if it was not with the best intentions. 

3.5 Stars




Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.