Life Books

September Reads

I read three books in August (which was pretty good considering my lack of reading in May, June, and July) but I vowed to do better in September and make reading a priority.

In our ongoing baby purge here at the house, I pulled over 50 books off my bookshelf. OVER 50 BOOKS. I had a real heart-to-heart with myself over a lot of the books and ended up getting rid of books I either read and didn’t enjoy enough to read again or books that I’ve been hanging onto for years but have yet to read. (Seriously, so many of the books I got rid of were never even read!) Instead of donating the books, I took them to my favorite local bookstore for a store credit.

I also finally paid the Jacksonville library the $12 I’ve owed them since 2009 (whoops!) and decided to utilize this free resource. I’ve forgotten how good it feels to browse bookshelf after bookshelf. I don’t know how long I was actually in the library but I could have stayed in there all day. Darn you, adult responsibilities! I ended up walking out with 10 books and realized next time I should probably bring a bag to carry my bounty.

Ok, so what did I actually read in September? Well, I have to admit I kind of cheated. Now that my energy and appetite is back in full force (yay, second trimester!), I’m actually excited about food again and wanting to experiment in the kitchen. I checked out a handful of cookbooks from the library to try out some new recipes. That counts as reading, right?

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – ★★★☆☆

A friend gave me this book forever ago and it’s been sitting on my bookshelf. This book survived the great book purge since the movie was coming out and I decided I should see what the fuss is all about. The story was good for about three quarters of the book… and then it just gets weird. But I enjoyed it enough to buy the second book (with my bookstore credit!) and I’m excited to continue the journey.

If you’ve seen the movie Big Fish, you’ve already got a grasp on the general plot line of the book. Jacob’s grandfather, Abe, tells him grandiose stories throughout his childhood about living in a home full of children with extraordinary powers. As Jacob gets older, he believes these stories less and less. When his grandfather dies, he goes on a journey to discover the truth and finds out his grandfather’s stories were true.

My favorite part of the book is the use of real photographs of people seemingly doing extraordinary things. There’s a section in the back where Riggs explains how his fascination with these vintage photos found at flea markets and garage sales inspired the series.

Adam and I went to see the movie on Sunday and I was sorely disappointed with Tim Burton’s adaptation. Having not read the book, Adam enjoyed the movie. I silently criticized all of the differences Burton made, annoyed that major characters were switched and details were changed and left out. Not to mention, the final third of the movie was completely different than the book. The movie didn’t even end the same! Sigh. Books > movies, always.

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry – ★★★☆☆

I’m a huge fan of Katie McGarry’s Thunder Road series so I decided to check out her first series. Pushing the Limits is a teenage romance about Echo, a middle class smarty pants with a mysterious past, and Noah, a seemingly deadbeat foster kid with no future. The pair is matched up by their social worker, Mrs. Collins, fall in sweet high school puppy love, and work together to solve Echo’s mysteries and give Noah a future.

All of McGarry’s books are fluffy romances with cookie cutter plot lines but I can’t get enough! I think I prefer teenage romance over adult romance because there’s less vulgarity (no mentions of undulating thighs or throbbing members) and they remind me of what it was like in high school and college to have a crush on a guy.

Voracious by Cara Nicoletti – ★★★☆☆

Cara Nicoletti grew up in her grandfather’s butcher shop. As a voracious reader, she’s combined two of her favorite things – reading and food – to create her blog Yummy Books as well as Voracious. Each of the recipes in Voracious is based upon a book, such as The Secret Garden Currant Buns, Great Expectations Pork Pie, and Gone Girl Brown Butter Crepes. I love the stories that go along with the recipes but I’m disappointed that there are no photos of the finished dishes. You eat with your eyes first and I feel like a cookbook without photos is missing the most important feature in getting readers interested in a recipe. With that being said, I love the concept behind the book and I look forward to reading Cara’s blog.

Keys to the Kitchen by Aida Mollenkamp – ★★★☆☆

Aida Mollenkamp is a Food Network and Cooking Channel star. While there are recipes in this book, it’s more of a reference manual for getting around the kitchen. There is a ton of useful information on equipment, proper food storage and preparations, knife skills, and basic staple recipes like basic doughs and a good tomato sauce. The book is beautifully arranged but bulky. This is one of the few books that I’d actually recommend getting in an ebook format over the paper version. I can see myself referencing it’s pages from the ease of my iPad propped up on the kitchen counter.

The recipes range in difficulty. There are quite a few that I could see myself trying out like Tomato-Orange Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons, Balsamic Caramel Chicken with Roasted Eggplant, and Shrimp Simmered in Garlicky Beer Sauce. I’m disappointed that there aren’t more photos but overall I think this book would be handy to have around the kitchen.

Home at 7, Dinner at 8 by Sophie Wright – ★★☆☆☆

I was really excited about this book since some nights I don’t get home until after 7:00. But I have to admit that I wasn’t really excited over any of the recipes. I appreciate that there is a photo of each dish to coincide with the recipes but I flipped through the entire book without thinking, yes, I have to make this! I’ll probably flip through the book one more time before returning it to the library but overall I’m unimpressed. One star for content, another for photography.

Date Night In by Ashley Rodriguez – ★★★★☆

Ashley Rodriguez is the writer behind the food blog Not Without Salt. I am actually not familiar with her blog; I just grabbed this book at the library based on it’s design and photos. But after reading through the cookbook, I’ll be reading more into her life and cooking.

Ashley shares candidly about getting to a point in her marriage where she and her husband, Gabe, felt they needed a reconnect. Food had always been an important role in their lives so they established weekly date nights where they plan and prepare an elaborate, usually multi-course dinner, that they cook and enjoy together.

The recipes in this book are pretty complex but they’re explained very well and organized by season. Each “date” begins with a story of how the meal came to be, a supply list, and a timeline of preparations. The photographs throughout the book are beautiful.

My favorite “date” is His Birthday where Ashely talks about baking a birthday cake for Gabe. As a renown baker, she wants to pull out all the stops and create him this elaborate birthday cake… while all Gabe wants is a rainbow chip cake made from a box mix. Ashley talks about taking the time to develop her own rainbow chip cake recipe and how much Gabe loved the final product.

I haven’t cooked any of the recipes in this book but I will most likely be purchasing a copy of my own so that I can read Ashley and Gabe’s love stories and recreate some of the dates myself.

What have you been reading lately? Follow me on Goodreads to keep up with my reading progress.

Heads up! I’ve included Amazon affiliate links in this post. If you buy a book using my link, a little bit of change goes into my tip jar.

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