Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

In honor of my Halloween costume, I've put together a list of some great historical fiction and nonfiction titles about one of my favorite historical figures: Marie Antoinette.

Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson

Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey

The Knight of the Maison-Rouge: A Novel of Marie Antoinette by Alexandre Dumas

Versailles by Kathryn Davis


Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser

Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution by Caroline Weber

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Live like a writer

The Week magazine has a section every week of featured homes on the market throughout the country. They always follow a theme: colonial homes, homes on the beach, historical homes, etc. They are usually multi-million dollar homes plus one "steal of the week." Obviously these are not homes which I could ever hope to buy, but they are still fun to look at. The theme last week was author's homes on the market, which caught my eye. If you are in the market for a home and want to channel a writer's vibe check out these homes:

Ann Rule, one of my favorite true crime writers, is selling her Burien, Washington home for $999,750. It features a main residence as well as a writing cottage.

Novelist Roxana Robinson is selling her four-bedroom home in Mount Desert, Maine for $5.6 million. English-style library with built-in bookshelves (a librarian's dream!).

Gore Vidal's Los Angeles home (with more built-in bookshelves!) is going for $3,495,000.

Garrison Keillor's River Falls, Wisconsin 11.5 acre "retreat" is listed at $995,000. A steal.

The five-story 1839 townhouse in Brooklyn where Truman Capote lived when he wrote his most famous books, is going for $14,995,000.

The steal of the week: Poet Donald Faulkner's Niskayuna, New York Tudor-style home is going for a mere $319,000.

Monday, October 24, 2011

An oldie but a goodie...

I was reading the latest issue of Audiofile magazine when a title caught my eye: Follow the River by James Alexander Thom. I wonder what prompted Tantor to release this audiobook now. This book was actually published in the 1980s, which I remember because I was obsessed with this book when I was in fifth grade. My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Weber, was reading the book and every day would come to school and tell us what happened in the chapter she had read the night before. By the end I was so captivated by the story that I begged my Mom to buy me the paperback so I could read it myself.

From what I remember, the story is set in the 18th or 19th century America, in an area that has few American settlers. Mary Ingles lives with her family out in the middle of nowhere, where raids by the Indians constantly kept them in fear. One day, Shawnee Indians raid their little settlement, kidnapping Mary (who is pregnant) and her children. Mary eventually escapes with another woman and they have to walk miles to get back home. It is a dangerous journey and they suffer from starvation, but do finally make it home.

I'm not sure what it was about this particular novel that stuck with me, but it is one of the few books from my childhood that I remember so vividly. I think of it from time to time and consider re-reading it (I still have that paperback my Mom bought me), but I worry that I'll be disappointed this time around. That it won't live up to my memory. Maybe it's just a cheesy paperback. What books from your childhood really stuck with you? Have you re-read them as an adult?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Booker Prize Winner Announced

The Man Booker Prize, which is awarded to the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the British Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland, was awarded yesterday to Julian Barnes for his novel, The Sense of an Ending. Be sure to reserve a copy!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cook Without a Book

I'm a big fan of Pam Anderson's How to Cook Without a Book. She focuses on teaching fundamentals and then explains how you can modify recipes to your taste. The idea is to help cooks learn to cook more on their own, rather than feeling like they have to follow a recipe every time. Anderson has a new version of this cookbook coming out toward the end of October: Cook Without a Book: Meatless Meals. Although I'm not a vegetarian, I'm trying to cut back on meat, but I'm always at a loss as to what to make besides the good old standby, spaghetti. So, I'm always on the lookout for a really good vegetarian cookbook.

The recipes in Anderson's latest are simple and healthy. She provides a "master formula" for each recipe, and rather than specifying a certain ingredient, provides suggestions for ingredients to pick from. I like this because it lets you choose the ingredients you enjoy and shows how easily ingredients can be substituted. This is a great cookbook for beginning cooks, new vegetarians, or anyone who enjoys experimenting with ingredients.