Who doesn’t love a cute home decor book, bonus points for practical tips. How to Set a Table by POTTER book promised to offer an exciting range of possibilities to add to one’s dining experience. I was surprised to find the book on a smaller side, quite compact and under 200 pages long.
The information touches many aspects of shared meals: it mentions casual dining, weekday breakfasts, formal dining, buffet-style entertainment and even birthday picnic. It is however quite concise: an occasion and approximate setting mentioned and not much else. A tip on etiquette is likewise included but only one per occasion. I did appreciate the info graphics on types of basic dinnerware. Formal dining has nice tips on arranging of plates and glasses. The photography is lovely and images are abundant – plenty of eye candy here.
Overall impression: I think it makes a cute little gift. The book is very pretty to look at, it has this delightful linen cover that I just loved. It won’t teach you everything you need to know about table etiquette, but I thought it was a nice and pretty cheat sheet with enough occasions included.
I received this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
The rules and set up is pretty straightforward, there is a deck of cards and tokens. Three cards go into a pool and each player gets 5 cards. Words are then created and tokens received. We played half a deck at out first round and it took us about 30 minutes to get through it. It was three of us me, an adult, a 7th grader and a 4th grader. All three of us had fun making up words. It was definitely not as easy as I thought at the beginning as one gets a letter or a suffix or a syllable and has to get creative with that. My 4th grader had a bit of a trouble at first, but then got into it and had tons of fun.
Overall impression: fun and quick game, perfect for a classroom or a quick round with family and friends. Rules are easy to follow. Cards are made of a sturdy material which is nice for those little fingers that won’t stay still. I definitely recommend it.
The book is probably the most comprehensive guide I have come across so far. It is split into five sections. First section talks in depth about history of drawing. Part two reviews materials, I greatly appreciated the meticulousness here, some materials I was really curious about, but found hardly mentioned in my previous studies. Part three discusses essential drawing skills with a large discussion on composition, which was probably my most favorite part of the book – so clear and valuable it was to me. Part 4 discussed the esthetics and various styles. Part five focused on a few drawing demonstrations- still life, interior and human form, again with some interesting bits of art history.
Overall impression: Wonderful addition to my collection, tons of valuable information to go through and ponder. I think this book will be most interesting for someone who is serious about drawing and art history, there are no immediate instructions and how tos, I see it more as a very detailed drawing encyclopedia. Probably best suited for adult artists due to the amount of information. 5 stars.
The Midnight Queenis a debut novel by Sylvia Izzo Hunter. I confess I picked this book initially because of the beautiful cover. The plot seemed interesting too, and reminded me of Suzanna Clarke Jonathan Strange and Mr.Norell.
The story revolves around Gray, a young magick scholar, who got into a terrible predicament involving a murder and had to go spend the vacation in the house of his Professor. He gets to know the Professor’s daughters and together with them tries to untangle the situation he found himself in. The style of the writing imitates that of the Regency period novels. And although I think it was a nice touch and added to the atmosphere, I also found it was “trying too hard” at times and soon grew tired of it. The plot moves slowly, and language unfortunately doesn’t help to speed it up. First 100 pages were especially trying, it started to move a little bit faster after that, but not by much. The story was entertaining and I still think the plot sounded really interesting, but it ended up just ok.
Overall impression: Not bad, but not great either. Goodreads marks it as a first book of the series, I am not sure if I am looking forward to the next one. 3 stars.
Literary travels are incredibly attractive to me. What was the author looking at, how did a place influence his vision and story development? I was always curious about this story-place connection. A new book called The New York Times: Footsteps explore this in a delightful collection of essays that were originally featured in The New York Times travel section.
The essays touch almost every corner of the world- Americas, Europe, Middle East and South East Asia. Some places I would never associated with a particular author (such as Mark Twain and Hawaii, probably for me having a limited knowledge of his works). I loved essay on Mary Oliver, exploring Prince Edward Island with L.M. Montgomery was another favorite. Those two I went after first. It was fascinating to read about Rimbaud in Ethiopia and I particularly enjoyed a peak at Carroll/Dodgson’s Oxford. I am slowly working through this book, savoring each little essay and possibly making travel plans of my own. I am not reading it in any particular order, focusing for now on beloved works and making a list of those I haven’t got a chance to read yet.
I enjoy this book so far, it is very interesting to see the place through a personal connection of an essay’s author and still imagining what it must have looked like to a book author at the time. I wonder if I can make at least few of these trips myself. Interestingly enough I imagined this book as a sort of a tourist guide originally, but I am glad it turned out to be almost diary-like experience. 5 stars.
I don’t often see a cookbook that deals with specific meal of the day, or rather when I do, it’s focusing either on breakfasts or special occasion. It’s the first time I came across a book that is dedicated specifically to dinners. Melissa Clark, a writer for a number of cooking publications offers an astonishing collection of recipes that are meant to “change the game” of typical dinners by adding new flavors and giving new options to a home cook.
The recipes are organized by main ingredient, which is helpful (although I’d prefer to have all the poultry in one section, rather than chicken separate). There is a good number of light dishes and a plenty of vegetarian choices. The author uses lots of ethnic flavors too. Most of the recipes are kid friendly. We tried a few simpler ones, and they turned out pretty yummy. Most of the ingredients look easily attainable.
Overall impressions: With over 200 recipes to choose from this book looks like a delight. It will take me a while to cook through it, which means lots and lots of new dishes for my family to enjoy. The recipes are easy enough to put together and directions are fairly straightforward. Gorgeous photography.
Memoirs are so fascinating to me. The beginnings are always the most interesting -how do people even start, how do they decide this is it and embark on the journey. Culinary memoirs are a whole special category. This time I read Eric Ripert’s 32 Yolks: From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line.Eric Ripert is a French-born chef, who owns the famous Le Bernardin in New York. He is also the author of numerous cookbooks and a TV personality.
In his memoir Eric talks about his early years- the childhood in Antibes and Andorra, dealing with his parents’ divorce and brutal treatment from his stepfather, challenges he had to overcome on his journey of learning the art of fine cuisine. The book is laced with Eric’s love for food, it almost seems that his future as a top chef was predestined from his earliest years. I loved his descriptions of the warm atmosphere of family gatherings and important people and mentors in his life. The story of his time in cooking school and apprenticeship made me appreciate the hard work that goes into creating a meal worthy of a Michelin-star even more.
Overall impression: I enjoyed this book. My version was the audiobook and the narrator Peter Ganim has a very pleasing and soothing voice. It was an interesting read. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in fine cuisine and the process of becoming a chef. I will have my children listen to it when they’re older (there are some topics that they’re not quite ready for just yet, plus some strong language here and there).