Monday, November 24, 2014

What I'm Reading, and a Few Book Giveaways

Thanksgiving Week has arrived in the US. There's a buzz of excitement in the air. Already this afternoon there was a mad rush at the grocery store and I had to fight my way through a crowd to triumphantly score a the butternut squash.

Next week, I'll tell you about my holiday cooking but today, here's a rundown of the books I've been reading lately. And scroll down for some book giveaways.



Jana Bibi's Excellent Fortunes (Jana Bibi Adventures #1) by Betsy Woodman is the story of a Scottish woman who makes India her adopted homeland in the decade following independence. She inherits a large house on a hill station and moves there. The very existence of the town is threatened by a proposed dam, and the story revolves around Jana Bibi and the colorful town residents who rally around to save the town. This was an easy and pleasant read but not particularly memorable- I like books that "give me all the feelings" and this one did not emotionally resonate with me for whatever reason.




The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad #2) by Tana French is a taut psychological thriller. This one, just like all of Tana French's other books that I've read was emotionally wrought, riveting, memorable and a book I just couldn't put down. The premise of the book is not very plausible if you think about it, yet the writing and atmosphere pull you right into the story. If you're looking to lose yourself in a book over Thanksgiving weekend, this is one I would recommend.

The Restless Sleep: Inside New York City's Cold Case Squad by Stacy Horn. Horn goes into the Cold Case Squad of NYC, following along on four cold (as in unsolved) cases involving complex and brutal murders. Along the way, she studies the politics and bureaucracy of the department, the challenges they face and the personalities of the detectives involved. It is interesting stuff, except that Horn has the most fragmented and confusing narrative style. Despite my annoyance at the disjointed writing, I read the book in 2 days flat so it definitely kept up my interest. I read this book as part of a read-along for Nonfiction November; here are two other reviews of Restless Sleep by bloggers who read it this month.


And now for some book giveaways. I have three cookbooks that were sent by the publisher and one book of short stories that I won in the giveaway. I've enjoyed these books and would like to pass them on to someone else. You'll need a shipping address in the US to keep shipping costs affordable for me. I'll keep the giveaway open until the morning of Monday, December 1, 2014.

1. Rainbows in the Desert by Archna Pant is a book of short stories set in India. I won this book from Siri's blog (she has a short review there too). I read it and quite enjoyed it and am ready to pass it along for someone else to read over the holidays. To win this book, fill out this form. This giveaway is now closed and the winner is Leena.









2. Savory Pies by Greg Henry is a good cookbook for those of us who lack a sweet tooth but find a good savory pastry quite irresistible. There's a wonderful variety of recipes in this book- there's everything from pot pies to pizza variations, empanadas and calzones. There are savory (and to me, thus infinitely superior) versions of desserts, such as artichoke clafoutis, polenta cobbler and mushroom tart tatin. To win this book, fill out this form. This giveaway is now closed and the winner is Jane.





3. Homemade Condiments by Jessica Harlan. Many home cooks are adept making their own versions of condiments. I remember my mother making ketchup when tomatoes were in season, and making pickles and chhunda was the thing to do when we were drowning in raw mangoes from the backyard tree in early summer. In my kitchen, I often make salsas, chutneys and salad dressings (but so far, I've always bought mayo and mustard and ketchup). This book is a gem, covering all sorts of condiments from ketchup and barbecue sauces to pickles, relishes and dessert sauces. Some of the recipes that look really good to me include chipotle ketchup, avocado goddess dressing, sweet chili sauce and hoisin sauce. To win this book, fill out this form. This giveaway is now closed and the winner is Prachi.

4. Classic Snacks Made from Scratch by Casey Barber. I remember reading this in one of Michael Pollan's books: Only eat junk food that you've made in your own kitchen. (Or something to that effect). Well, if you've ever dreamed of making homemade versions of snack foods, Casey Barber has the recipes for you. This is such a fun cookbook. There's everything from cookies (eg. graham crackers) to twinkies, cool ranch doritos, pudding pops, cheetos! Some of the recipes are pretty simple to make, like the pudding pops, while others are very involved. But full points to her for closely replicating these (in)famous and celebrated treats. To win this book, fill out this form. This giveaway is now closed and the winner is Divya who said her favorite snack is fruit and nut biscuits!

What are you reading these days? 
Any big plans for Thanksgiving week?

18 comments:

  1. Excellent array of books . I am currentry reading " the spice necklace" by Ann Vanderhoof. It's quite interesting with a few recipes in the book but mostly about her day to day experience in caribean life.

    Jenna good fortunes sounds like "feel good" book .. definitely need a book like that right now for me to run away from the work stress

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    1. Ooh I definitely have to look for Spice Necklace!

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  2. I'm new to your blog and already love the heady mix of food and book posts.Will be a regular here from now on.
    From the books you've mentioned, I've read Jana Bibis excellent fortunes and reviewed in on my blog.Such books are okay once in a while to get you out of the serious book rut :)Will surely check out The likeness,it sounds interesting :)
    I'm reading Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult .

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    1. Welcome! Yes- books and food are pretty much the twin obsessions of my life :)

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  3. Love hearing your books you are reading - I am stalled in a tony blair autobiolgraphy and going through a book of interviews (Enough Rope) but I am getting to need some fiction again. Have a Neil Gaiman lined up. Have a great thanksgiving.

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    1. I hope you find a good novel to sink your teeth into, Johanna! I like a good mix of fiction and non-fic too.

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  4. Just put down "gone girl" by Gillian Flynn. Very curious to see how it has been treated as a movie. Excellent read, some of the insights of a marital relationship caught me dumbfounded, they were so close to home.

    Early this month, for Remembrance Day, was reading a book of short stories called Nightmare Range involving two military investigators who are based in Korea in the 70s I think, and basically ensuring that stupidities of the GI Joes are solved or "managed" before they turn into an international incident. Some great close ups of Korean culture that resonated because i come from a civilization that has history as old as time itself and how it is vital to be cognisant even if you are there as their protector. Also, makes you think how hard military life actually is, on a day to day basis. Pretty depressing but realistic and different

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    1. Gone Girl was well-written but left me feeling nauseous! Too much toxic drama in that book. IMHO. The military book sounds interesting and yes, I imagine hard to read.

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  5. I have been reading many books lately but honestly there has been nothing that has really left a mark. But one movie I saw recently that I loved was The Lunchbox. Do check it out if you get the chance.
    - Ashwini

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    1. Where did you see Lunchbox- is it on Netflix or did you buy a DVD?

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  6. I'm reading an interesting history of how tea, coffee and chocolate got introduced to the Western society. Very fascinating. Have a wonderful thanksgiving.

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    1. Oh that does sound fascinating, Mandira!

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  7. Love the way you jog the names of books and trigger my hunt for them . After a few mundane reads have my hands now on a very touching book In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner. It is about the horrors of Khmer Rouge and resilience to survive . Hoping to finish it by the weekend.
    Happy thanksgiving ! Sunila

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  8. Happy Thanksgiving, Nupur!
    I have already hosted a thanksgiving potluck ( just before school holiday ;) ) - I am not sure I would have handled 9 ladies and kids in my rental without some severe side effects.
    I am currently not reading anything ( well, I am reading Neelam BAtra's 1000 Indian recipes and 'The wishing wand and other stories'- Enid Blyton, with my son ) I will get something come Monday and the child is back in school.

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  9. Great list of books.
    I just read Chimamanda Adiche's Americanah and simply loved it.

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  10. I read The Outlander - a very long read with lots of melodrama,history,eroticism and fantasy. It was quite a departure from what I usually read. It was probably too much excitement for me- will not be reading the rest of the series in a hurry :)
    Since then have been indulging in quite a few Xmas reads. Really enjoyed how the grinch stole Xmas, Christmas in the big woods . Read them with my girl. However the high point go the month was a beautifully illustrated version of Dylan Thomas's -A Child's Xmas in Wales. Can't recommend it highly enough. Next I am reading a mystery called mystery in white.
    I noticed you read a Barbara Pym recently. How did you like it?
    Best Arpita.

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  11. Happy thanksgiving Nupur to you and your family! We just got back from a 1 week vacation at the beach with some friends. It was awesome to have extra hands to entertain our 14 month old and we all had super fun at the beach. Thanksgiving was spent grilling in our rental's outdoor grill and eating insane amount of food. While there I was reading the boy who harnessed the wind. Super inspiring read. I am almost at the end of the book. Highly recommend, if you have not read it. I have also picked up a Haruki Murakami from the library which I plan to start next.

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  12. I added The Likeness to my library list. Thanks for the recos and glad you enjoyed the Rainbows book.

    Hope all is well with you.

    Love,
    Siri

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