What I Read: February 2014

I read 6 books in February, half fiction, half non-fiction. Half on Kindle, half in print. How balanced of me!

A Fork in the Road, edited by James Oseland. This is a collection of essays about food and travel (two things I like quite a bit). It was a good, easy read, although a bit heavy on food experiences in Paris (I feel like if you are going to write about Paris for a book on food and travel, it’s got to be AMAZING, because it’s pretty rote at this point). I had two favorite essays – the first was by Giles Coren (restaurant critic for the Times of London) and was about his first trip to the U.S. as a child in the 1980s and his experiencing of all the amazing foods he’d only witnessed on TV (McDonald’s! Vending Machines! Twinkies!). The other was an essay by Ma Thanegi, a woman who had served as a body guard for Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma, when she was touring the country (prior to her house arrest). On their travel they were served veritable feasts at every stop, and Thanegi describes them (and the intersection of food, welcome, and politics) beautifully.

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing, written by Anya Von Bremzen. This was a really excellent memoir/look at Soviet history through the lens of food. Von Bremzen and her mother emigrated from Moscow to Philadelphia when she was 9, and she is now a cookbook-writer by profession. She goes through the Soviet Union by the decade – describing the food common to the era. This is much better than your average food memoir. Well worth picking up.

Cocaine Blues, written by Kerry Greenwood. This is the first book in a mystery series centered around Phyrne Fisher, an wild-living aristocrat, living in Australia in the 1930s. Somewhat as a lark, but following her natural talents, Fisher establishes herself as a private investigator. Very fun. A good vacation read.

Finnikin of the Rock, written by Melina Marchetta. Marchetta is a YA writer that I, surprisingly, had never read before. This is the first in a new fantasy series about Lumatere, a land under a curse, where no one can enter or leave. Finnikin is a Lumateran exile, son of the head of the King’s Guard. With the help of Evanjalin, a young woman with special powers, Finnikin embarks on a quest to find the missing Prince Balthazar, in the hopes that he has the power to break the curse. If you like YA Fantasy, this is a great read!

Keeping The Castle, written by Patrice Kindl. A perfectly charming YA romance written in the vein of Jane Austen’s Emma. If you like feisty heroines and crumbling castles, this is the book for you!

Girl Trouble: Panic and Progress in the History of Young Women, written by Carol Dyhouse. I was excited to get this book through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers – a look at the history of young women in the past century or so? Yes, please! Dyhouse is a British social historian, so it was also interesting to look at the progress made by girls and women from a slightly different perspective. Having read a lot about women’s history, a lot of this was familiar to me, still it was an interesting read and Dyhouse did a good job both providing a broad overview and interesting anecdotes. I bet she’s a great teacher!

What I Read: February 2014

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