Didn’t finish much this month thanks to a cold and some late nights.
- A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World, C.A. Fletcher: A post-apocalypse book that doesn’t really look much at all at the catastrophe. I really enjoyed the POV of this one.
- The Testaments, Margaret Atwood: A glimpse into the inner workings of Gilead.
- The Luminous Dead, Caitlin Starling: A sci-fi novel where the sci-fi part just is. Ultimately this is a psychological thriller about caving and extreme solitude.
If you only read one, it’s a tossup between A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World and The Luminous Dead.
An Unkindness of Ghosts, River Solomon: A story set in space that’s mostly about the societal structure of the ship where the story takes place, which is very much like the antebellum South. Intense.
84K, Claire North: The Company controls everything, including the government. Interesting writing & structure.
Transcription, Kate Atkinson: A WWII story with spillover effects later in the main character’s life. Not enough time spent on the ending.
The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal: Disaster strikes, the space race heats up, and some women try to become astronauts in the 1950s. I really want to see this made into a miniseries.
Bitter Orange, Claire Fuller: Slow-burning story of two women who are both trying to escape their past.
Unfinished: Melmoth, Sarah Perry.
If you only read one, make it either 84K or Transcription.
- Snap, Belinda Bauer: This is a backwards mystery – you pretty quickly learn who the culprit is, most of the story is about collecting the evidence.
- The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, Becky Chambers: Reminded me of Firefly, get on it! This was a really fun read.
- Convenience Store Woman, Sayaka Murata, Ginny Tapley Takemori (Translator): Quick and quirky. If you’re not sure about it, Longreads has a big excerpt.
- City of Thieves, David Benioff: Character-driven and really well-written.
- How to Get Dressed, Alison Freer: There were a lot of tips in this that were not new to me, but it was easy to skim and I think would be a great resource for anyone who wants to dress better, but isn’t quite sure how to make their wardrobe do that for them.
- The Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri: Beautifully, beautifully written. “Lyrical” does not feel overblown here.
- Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube, Blair Braverman: For some reason, I thought this book was about something else. Still enjoyed it though!
- The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker: You have to read this. I can’t wait to discuss with book club in a couple of days.
- The Water Cure, Sophie Mackintosh: Fascinating. Lots of things aren’t explained, but some things are just inexplicable.
If you only read one from this list, it’s a toss-up between The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and The Silence of the Girls.
I made this Baked Feta with Chickpeas & Kale tonight for dinner, and it was delicious! If you like tomatoes, cheese, and chickpeas this is definitely worth a make. I found it very easy to scale (I made a half batch) and it came together quickly. I have a bunch of tips and thoughts on this recipe.
Sometimes I wonder why I still have a blog. Anyway, still working on the Read Harder Challenge and also trying to get to more new releases more quickly. I’m aiming for about 3 months after publication, and while I haven’t quite made my self-imposed limit I have read a few things within a few months of publication, which is unusual for me.
Also, guess which month I didn’t travel.
- This Will Be My Undoing, Morgan Jenkins (not-quite-new anymore release)
- Pretty Mess, Erika Jayne
- Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann (A book of true crime)
- Shoal of Time, Gavan Daws (unfinished)
- Lumberjanes, Vol. 5, Noelle Stevenson & Brooke Allen (illustrator)
- Lumberjanes, Vol. 6, Shannon Waters, Kat Leyh, Carey Pietsch (illustrator)
- Parable of the Sower (Earthseed #1), Octavia E. Butler
- Parable of the Talents (Earthseed #2), Octavia E. Butler
- Seveneves, Neal Stephenson
- Tangerine, Christine Mangan (not-quite-new anymore release)
- Force of Nature (Aaron Falk #2), Jane Harper
- Bizarre Romance, Audrey Niffenegger & Eddie Campbell (illustrator) (not-quite-new anymore release)
- Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng
- Be Amazing or Go Home, Shep Hyken
- The Effortless Experience, Matthew Dixon
- Among Others, Jo Walton
- The Leavers, Lisa Ko
- Case Histories (Jackson Brodie #1), Kate Atkinson
- Human Acts, Han Kang
I’m doing the Read Harder Challenge again this year, as well as trying to read more new releases. I’ll indicate the category (or publication date) in parentheses.
Once again, a lot of random library holds came in all at once.
- The Maze at Windermere, Gregory Blake Smith (January 2018)
- A Study in Scarlet Women, Sherry Thomas
- We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, Samantha Irby
- Uprooted, Naomi Novik
- The Wanderers, Meg Howry
- Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Notorious RBG, Irin Carmon
- The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden
- Super Extra Grande, Yoss (A book of genre fiction in translation)
- Schroder, Amity Gage
- The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead (An Oprah Book Club selection)
- Yes Please, Amy Poehler (A celebrity memoir)
- Feminist Fight Club, Jessica Bennett
- The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin (A classic of genre fiction)
- The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah
I’m doing the Read Harder Challenge again this year, and will indicate the categories in parentheses. I’m also trying to read more new releases – hoping for about one a month – rather than forever being the voracious reader who hasn’t read, say, Lincoln in the Bardo or The Underground Railroad yet.
That said, I’ve had a run on library holds coming in over the last few weeks, so it’s been tough to work on the Read Harder books and new releases.
- Men Explain Things To Me, Rebecca Solnit
- Nimona, Noelle Stevenson (a comic written & illustrated by the same person)
- The Stone Sky, N.K. Jemisin
- A Separation, Katie Kitamura
- The Biographies of Ordinary People, Vol. 1, Nicole Dieker
- Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie
- The Portable Veblen, Elizabeth Mckenzie
- Elmet, Fiona Mosley (December 2017)
- The Perfume Collector, Kathleen Tessaro
- The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen
- The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 6: Who Run the World? Squirrels, Ryan North and Erica Henderson (illustrator)
- Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Vol. 2, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Chris Sprouse, Rich Buckler, Brian Stelfreeze (illustrators)
- Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times, Michael Dietsch
- Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward
- The Strange Bird: A Borne Story, Jeff VanderMeer
- Borne, Jeff VanderMeer
Lots of good stuff in the last couple of months. Of particular note: Borne and The Stone Sky, if you like sci-fi (the latter is the third in a trilogy); A Separation; and Sing, Unburied, Sing.
Throughout 2017 Marisa McClellan, author of the blog Food in Jars, is running a series of monthly canning and preserving challenges. I decided to participate in order to learn some new skills and make some recipes I might not normally gravitate towards.
The June challenge is jam, and while I didn’t make something new, I did make several jars of strawberry jam. I was very pleased to find that one of the orchards at the farmer’s market near us will allow you to pre-order flats of fruit, and the price was right.
I picked up a flat of strawberries (six quarts) and used five of them in three recipes:
- A double batch of the Strawberry Jam from Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin
- Honey-Sweeteneed Strawberry Jam with Sage from Preserving by the Pint
- Strawberry Syrup from Food in Jars
I’ve made both the jams before – the honey strawberry is particularly good with cheeseboards, but as it turns out I still have several quarter pints of that from last summer, so all of these jams were canned in either pint or half-pint jars.
The syrup was new for me. We’re drinking a lot of what we call fizzes – sparkling water with something added for flavor. Dave likes fresh lime juice with bitters, and I’m partial to the pomegranate shrub. I’ve recently also made a rhubarb ginger syrup that’s delicious, and so I wanted to try strawberry as well. It was very easy to make, and made quite a lot.
I still have some catching up to do for the Mastery Challenge – I didn’t do April (quick pickles) or May (cold-pack method) but I’ll make sure to hit those in the coming weeks.