Cindy's Picks (page 1)
As a pie baker, I'm always curious and skeptical about new pie cookbooks. This book has some incredibly delicious and unique recipes such as the Earl Grey Custard Pie which turned out be a massive crowd pleaser at Thanksgiving dinner. The author gives great explanations and techniques for creative pie making.
The Petrified Forest National Park has archived the many letters that they have received when visitors return their stolen rocks. For years, visitors have taken rocks from the park. Eventually, many of these rocks are returned and they are usually accompanied by a letter detailing the taker's story, bad luck and often an apology. This book is fascinating and reveals an intimate portrayal of humans seeking forgiveness accompanied by a beautiful image of the stolen rock.
This novel covers the lives of the Blair family over five decades. The prose is beautiful and the story is told in parts with shifting points of view. The narrative comes together and creates an universal yet personal experience. This story makes you think about nature vs. nurture, accident vs intent and how a decision shapes the lives of others. Upon completion, you'll be thinking about the intricacies of this family and story long after you've read the final page.
This engrossing story is about two half sisters, Eva and Iris. It begins when Eva is 12 and Iris is a teenager and they are living in Chicago. They run away from their father so Iris can become a star in Hollywood, and Eva is there to support her. When their luck runs out in Hollywood, they move to Long Island where, over a period of years, they make new friends and eventually reconnect with their father. But, just like in real life, things do not always go as smoothly as one would hope. They do their best to cope with all the good and the bad, and the successes and the failures that are a part of being in a family and are a part of life. I highly recommend it.
Reggie grew up in an English orphanage, where we meet him in 1953, a young man, working behind the scenes for a magician. His life changes when the magician hires a new assistant, Pamela Rose, and they are hired to perform at a theater in Brighton. We see Reggie grow into adulthood, developing a relationship with Pamela Rose and searching for a special person who disappeared from his life when he was young. Not only were the characters interesting, but I enjoyed getting a behind-the-scenes look at the workings of a magician's act.
As a regular pie baker, I'm always looking for inspiration and unique recipes. When I discovered this cookbook, I was thrilled to find such great creativity in pie baking. The photographs and stories are beautiful as well. In this cookbook, you'll find a great selection of recipes that include pies such as: Salty Honey Pie, Blueberry Lavender Pie & Green Chili Chocolate Pie.
The Night Guest is both a fable and a mystery/thriller. Ruth is a widower and lives alone on a remote beach home in Australia until a mysterious caretaker appears. There is also, possibly, a tiger that roams Ruth’s home at night. As Ruth's memory begins to fade, her narration becomes unreliable and the reader is uncertain whose story to believe–the caretaker Frida, or the aging Ruth. This is a tender debut novel about old age with elements of a psychological thriller about isolation that is just beautifully written.
Lauren Grodstein writes beautifully and manages to tell a story of heartbreak, conviction and spiritual love and loss while towing the fragile line between Darwinism and Evangelism. Humans are flawed and this novel beautifully explores the path that a teacher and father, his daughters and friends and neighbors must take to move forward.
Don Tillman is an emotionally challenged geneticist who creates a questionnaire to find the ideal wife. Along the way, he meets Rosie who answers each question incorrectly. As a geneticist, Don agrees to help Rosie find the identity of her birth father and there the story begins. The book is often hilarious as Don tries to understand social cues and navigate his world turning upside down. It's a perfect read for those that like Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.
Reading A Constellation of Vital Phenomena was like reading One Hundred Years of Solitude for the first time. It is simply a remarkable reading experience. It's a novel about the human condition over a ten year period in Chechnya. The prose is extraordinary and eloquent, and leaves you breathless as you re-read phrases wondering how a first-time novelist can write so beautifully. This is a story about coincidence, betrayal, and forgiveness in a war-torn country, and about how together those conditions can decide a child's fate and future. This is one of the best novels I've read in many years. The story and prose stayed with me long after I'd finished the last extraordinary page.
Flat Water Tuesday is a coming of age novel that brings to life the rituals of team sports, most specifically rowing. Our main character is from a lower-class family and has won a rowing scholarship at an elite boarding school. The novel weaves together stories of rivalry, class differences, tragedy, and romance. This is a great read for anyone who liked The Art of Fielding and Dead Poets Society.
This book gives a phenomenal overview of the shipping container movement across the world. When the economy crashed, architects and communities rose to the challenge by looking at the standard and discarded shipping containers as a low-cost temporary solution to activating vacant parcels. Container Atlas provides the history and document plans of this trend, and introduces these innovative, new ideas to a global audience.
Marcus was only three years old when he, his mother, and his sister who were all battling tuberculosis walked seventy-five miles to a hospital in Ethiopia. His mother died, but Marcus and his sister recovered, and one year later they were adopted by a white family in Sweden. It was there that Marcus’s new grandmother sparked in him a lifelong passion for cooking. Markus went on to study in Europe and eventually ended up in New York City where his talent and ambition earned him rave reviews, awards and a place on Top Chef Masters. This story gives the readers a view into the European culinary schooling and the issues of race not only in the kitchen but in the community at large.
One of my methods for relaxation is reading through cookbooks; another is baking. This book satisfies the best of both worlds. There are some great recipes for small pies that you can eat with your hands. I still haven't made them, but I'm looking forward to the PB&J pop tart.
The Art of Fielding—an amazing debut novel that took ten years to write—is one of the best books of the year. I could not put it down, and missed it when I wasn’t reading it. The Art of Fielding is the story of a baseball team at a small college near Lake Michigan, but this not a book about baseball. This is a story about people, and how psychological barriers and self-doubt can spin interconnected lives out of control. Harbach’s characters are so realistically rendered that you begin to love them for their flaws. This is a book about communities and commitments to oneself and to others—and good enough to consider reading it a second time! —Cindy
Our unreliable narrator is Rosa—a relentlessly interfering, self-centered matriarch of a Tartar family living in the former Soviet Union. The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine is the story of three women—Rosa, her daughter Sulfia, and her granddaughter Aminat. Their roller-coaster relationships with one other are funny and very dark. The narration continuously takes unexpected turns through impoverished USSR and into industrious West Germany. But as soon as the family is settled in the West, the dysfunctional ties that bind mother, daughter, and grandmother begin to come apart. —Cindy
This autobiography rises above a single genre. It’s a story about Grant Achatz—an artistic, culinary genius who puts everything into his work, becoming one of the youngest award-winning chefs in the world. But during his greatest success, Achatz is diagnosed with Stage IV tongue cancer. He chooses to reject treatment that could jeopardize his tongue and sense of taste. His partner, Nick Kokonas, refuses to give up; he researches alternative treatments and pushes Achatz to see specialists. When an article in the Chicago Tribune appears about Achatz’s diagnosis, the University of Chicago offers Achatz a spot in a pioneering medical program, which could save his tongue, and his life. This is a compelling read and I could not put this down for three days. —Cindy
A memoir in second person! I didn’t think it could be done, but leave it to Mark Richard to tell his story from a new viewpoint. Richard grew up in the South and was called a “special child”—an euphemism for mentally and physically challenged. Richard learned about racial tensions and social norms from a state hospital bed. His mother sought comfort in scripture, while his father was
a perfectionist and struggled with his imperfect son. Richard grew up to defy his doctors’ predictions that he would spend his adult life in a wheelchair and become a disc jockey, fishing boat deckhand, house painter, naval correspondent, and more. Throughout his life, Richard questions his faith, and he weaves this through out his memoir in extraordinarily beautiful prose where not one word is wasted. —Cindy
How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu is a remarkable multi-layered novel about the fictions we create and the lies we tell to create our identities for the sake of love and family. Mengestu's prose is beautiful. He tells a grand sweeping tale of an immigrant experience, an African experience. He also tells a deeply intimate story, one that illustrates a second-generation immigrant's American experience as he negotiates our landscape seeking his footing and a sense of place. —Cindy
T-Shirts have become a lifestyle. This book celebrates the uniquess of the designs created by the small start-up company: Threadless. Threadless is an essential read/gift for any creative. Not only is this book filled with graphic images from the Threadless portfolio, but it also tells the story of a company founded by two people who stumbled into success and created a community of designers and consumers bonded by good design. —Cindy
Brilliant! Each chapter of this first novel is written from the viewpoint of a different teen attending an end of school year party. There is the cool kid, the wallflower, the athlete and the rest, and each chapter continues and expands the story, by not only giving you one characters’ personal experience, but their view of their peers. —Cindy
The title alone summarizes this book. It is laugh-out-loud funny and full of sad and bittersweet moments. Despite the fact that The Lonely Polygamist is a story about a man in a mid-life crisis, with four wives, 28 children, and one dog in need of constant attention, it is a universal story. Any reader can recognize the “sister-wife” or “plural-child” in each of us. Udall's skill is not only his fine prose, but the treatment of his characters. He writes them equally and without judgment, because they are all flawed. The novel goes to unexpected places, as everyone finds a way to fit in without alienating everyone else around them. —Cindy
Indignation is a powerful book that draws upon Roth’s familiar themes–an overbearing religious family and injustice in the world at large. The Korean War looms overhead while young men and women pursue the boundaries of sexual mores. As always, Roth's words are impeccable and his characters complex. It’s a must read for his fans and highly recommended for all who appreciate great writing and storytelling. —Cindy
When You Reach Me is a wonderful story with a great voice. Miranda is a New York City kid who knows how to navigate her way through her neighborhood, but she is suddenly thrown off by some mysteries—her best friends stops speaking to her, the extra apartment key her mother hides for her has gone missing, and scrawled notes referencing the future start arriving. This is an original story with that is also a tribute to A Wrinkle In Time. —Cindy
The Help is set in the state of Mississippi in the late 1960’s. Slavery has been abolished and black and whites have been deemed equal, but this novel goes deep into the homes where black maids work for white women. Despite the fact that the maids prepare the food, care for the children, and clean the home, the white community still sees their black neighbors as an alien race. This novel captures the ironies and hypocrisies of southern hospitality at the cusp of changing times. —Cindy