• Books

    Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

    Compared to the first book, lots of things happen in this novel. So also begins the
    the restlessness of Charles Ingalls.

    This novel had moving, travel, house building, Indians, malaria, and more. A lot of the stuff was on the scary side such as the creek crossing part, almost losing Jack the dog, and basically all the parts with wild animals.

    It was a bit interesting to watch them travel and build a home on the prairies. Pa also seems to be a great hunter. I do like his endearment to Laura being “half-pint of sweet cider half drunk up.” I also liked the introduction of Mr. Edwards; I liked him when I was a kid too. I enjoyed the Santa Claus chapter and laughed out loud with that line: “In the Southwest, Santa Claus rides a pack mule”

    The Scotts’ racism against Indians was a low point though. Pa wasn’t particularly prejudiced, but I’m wary about this whole land issue in the book.

    I can’t judge this book without reading the others I feel. There are some nice moments that exemplified Laura’s (or Rose’s) writing ability.

    Reread August 23, 2014 on Kindle.

  • Books

    Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

    This book in the series is known for its food, and there is lots and lots of food at the beginning stages. Almanzo’s childhood is relatively stable and abundant when compared to Laura’s. I think Laura wrote all the food to emphasize how much Manly had, but also how much she herself didn’t have growing up.

    This is actually a really good standalone children’s book. There are a lot of period details about farm life from harvesting, weaving, animal husbandry, the fair, and much more. I only felt bad for the women and girls. Alice, Eliza, and Mother seemed to have been in the kitchen their whole lives. Alice even says “Boys have all the fun.”

    The other discomfort would be the outdated stories about the Indian at the fair and playing “Indian”. The other annoying thing was Almanzo randomly getting $200 at the end for no reason really. None of the kids get “tanned” by their parent in this story. In fact, Father Wilder seems to be an incredibly savvy and benevolent man.

    I’d reread this in the future. There was some sweet moments, but the ending was a bit abrupt.

    Reread August 19-21, 2014 on Kindle.

  • Books

    The Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

    This is part of a readalong of the Little House series I am organizing on an internet forum I moderate.

    One of the reasons I organized the readalong was to see if they were as good as I remembered, but also to look critically for things. Rose Wilder wrote a lot of these books with her mother, and her political views are sprinkled throughout. Secondly, reading between the lines, a lot of other readers wondered if Pa Ingalls as that good of a family man after all.

    The Little House in the Big Woods

    This book was more boring than I remembered. Actually, maybe this book is so idyllic, it edges onto tedium.

    I did enjoy some aspects, particularly the food parts: butchering, cheese-making, butter churning, maple sugaring, and more. I like the hunting moments, Christmas family moments, and Ma making hats. The ending is sweet too.

    Some of the stuff I wasn’t loving was the punishments, spankings for birthdays, and the rivalry between Mary and Laura in general was a bit discomforting. I didn’t like how they wrote about how Laura was not noticed because of her brown hair and curls: “They were ugly and brown.” Poor Laura.

    Why did they move? I don’t know how the woods were so crowded when Laura and Mary had never even seen two houses together let alone a town or a store.

    All in all, this was a lackluster start. It had its moments. I may consider it for children’s reading.

    Reread August 18, 2014 on Kindle.

  • Books

    Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon

    This is the eighth book in the Outlander series. I honestly can’t believe I’ve read all the books to this series.

    I now moderate an Outlander forum so I had to catch up for the show’s airing. Great start to the show by the way.

    As for this novel, I feel the first couple of books were my favourites. I think the first novel is the most tightly written. Each of them subsequently have become more and more sprawling. There are a lot of narratives and it can often drag in the middle.

    Case in point, I did not always like how various characters and families were split apart. I also did not like William or care about his struggles.

    On a more positive note, Gabaldon’s novels usually end on a high or on a plot hanger. This one was the former. Ultimately, these books are about family and marriage in extreme circumstances. I really enjoyed the every day moments featured at the end. So much so that I will read the next book.

    I have given up on other series before, but Gabaldon’s writing just makes it so that I still hang out every time I finish.

    Read on August 3rd-14th, 2014.

  • Books

    The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

    In a funny twist, I learned about this book from a Korean drama about an alien who learns to fall in love called “You from the Stars”. This children’s book is about a China rabbit toy who goes on a reluctant adventure and learns to love.

    There was something sweet as Edward learned to love and the ending is lovely as a result. I don’t love this book though. I can see how it could be a classic for children. I didn’t really like how the rabbit was punished for not loving his child though. The characters along the way were nice but very sad as well.

    Read August 2, 2014.

  • Books

    Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line by Michael Gibney

    If you liked Kitchen Confidential, you’ll like this book. This is 24 hours in a Modern American NYC restaurant as told by one of the Sous-Chefs. Since I have family members in the food industry, read other books like this, and watch a lot food professional food shows, none of this stuff came as a surprise.

    For the lay person, this is a revealing look about what really happens behind the scenes of a nice restaurant. It has the highs and the many lows of it. It’s quite well written and it’s a debut work.

    The second person narrative actually worked because you felt immersed in the kitchen with the narrator. His struggles were your struggles.

    It’s a fun little book for those of us interested in food and the industry. I do not want this work, but it’s fascinating. At the core of it is the desire to make good food and do it well day after day.

    Read July 31, 2014.