Friday, July 25, 2014

Will Blog For Books

Thought for the day:  Books are uniquely portable magic.  [Stephen King]

Yes, indeedy, it's that time again. It's Cephalopod Coffeehouse time. Time for a bunch of us book-loving bloggers to sip fragrant beverages while sharing information about some of the innovative, new, and not-so-new books we've read over the past month. Wanta participate? Just pop on over to The Armchair Squid's blog.

If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.  [Haruki Murakami]

If you're still here, is it safe to assume you like to read? Well then, what do you think about FREE BOOKS? Yeah, I know. Dumb question, right? I'm pleased to say I've won a lot of books through Goodreads' giveaways... as many as three in a single day. But, that's kinda hit-or-miss, and based on the luck of the draw. What if there were a program where you can simply request a book, and (ta DA!) it gets shipped to you? Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? But it is true. Allow me to present ...


Maybe you've heard of bowling for dollars, or fishing for compliments, or running for office, but have you ever heard of (Insert drum roll here.) Blogging for Books? Don't worry; I never heard of it, either, not until the lovely Connie told me about it, that is. Now I'm passing the info on to you guys. Would you be willing to write a review on your blog about the books these fine folks send you? (Which, by the way, YOU get to select.) If so, who knows? Maybe you could take part in this program, too. To find out, all you have to do is go to their website and answer some simple questions. You get to select your preferred genres from a wide range of categories, and then if you're accepted, you have immediate access to a list of books from which to choose. Less than a week after I put in my request, I had my first selection in my hot little hands. Am I psyched? You betcha. I mean, come on! Free books? What's not to love? Check it out.
****

Okay, time to consider some of my reading indulgences from this past month. I read a couple Nicholas Sparks books, which were as enjoyable as a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows... and just about as predictable. Another Iris Johansen book, which was good, but not one of her best. I finally got around to reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett, too, and was delighted to find it's every bit as good as everyone says it is. I thoroughly enjoyed Florence Gordon, by Brian Morton, which is about a feisty and unforgettable seventy-five year old feminist. But the book I'm gonna highlight this month is the one I got from Blogging for Books. Not just because I agreed to blog about it, but because I genuinely loved it.

                           The book?


"My Paris Kitchen." Appropriately enough, it arrived on my doorstep on Bastille Day. Kinda cool, huh? Piggy that I am, I devoured the entire thing in one gluttonous sitting.

Is it a cookbook? Yes, but it isn't just a cookbook. It's an intimate cookbook with a myriad of personal touches, and it's written by an accomplished chef who's every bit as talented at spinning a delicious story about what it's like to live in Paris as he is at whipping up a mouth-watering meal.

Lebovitz relocated from California to Paris ten years ago, and with this book, it's almost as though he's taken us with him, because this book immerses readers in the realities of Parisian living.

Does it contain some wonderful classic French recipes? Yep, but that isn't all it contains. Like many other places in the world, the infusion of other cultures and nationalities has greatly influenced French eating and cooking habits. So this book also contains delightful recipes from other regions, too... with a bit of a French twist, of course.

In addition, this book includes clever tricks of the trade that any cook would appreciate, and some spiffy updates on some of the classic recipes found in my old (ie. antique) Julia Child cookbook. The recipes themselves? Extremely well-written, often illustrated, and simple enough for most cooks to tackle with confidence. (However, I don't think I'm gonna tackle the duck fat cookies... You're welcome, Smarticus.)

Oh, yeah. I know I already told you once, but according to the instructions, I'm supposed to add a disclaimer to the bottom of my review. So here 'tis...

DISCLAIMER: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.
***

For those of you who aren't into cooking, another book I read this month may be more to your liking: The Ghosts of Nagasaki, by Daniel Clausen. Talk about a unique book. I'm telling you, it's a literary Mobius strip. Past and present, real and imaginary, dead and alive... they all seem to coexist on the same plane, so it's a real mind-bending thought provoker. Plus, that dude really knows how to write.

                                              Okay, y'all, have a super weekend.

                                     Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


101 comments:

  1. You are an evil, evil temptress. And thank you.

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  2. Wow, this was a super energized post. Have a great weekend and Happy Reading.

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    1. Energized? Gee, thanks! It's been a long time since anyone associated that particular trait with anything having to do with me!

      And a very happy weekend to you, too.

      Delete
  3. The cookbook sounds good and interesting, have a great weekend :)

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    1. It really IS good. That's the first time I ever read a cookbook from cover to cover!

      Thanks. You have a super weekend, too.

      Delete
  4. That is so tempting but I am a slow reader these days and maybe they place a limit on how long you have before writing a review.
    Hope your weekend contains all the joy you wan it to.

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    1. Well, at least you were tempted. I'm not sure what kind of time limit, if any, they place on it. All I know is you have to review a book before you can order another one.

      Thanks. I hope your weekend is packed with joy, too.

      Delete
  5. It's becoming as if the only people who understand French cuisine are foreigners. The standard of cooking by French chefs is sadly deteriorating by the day.

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    1. French chefs may have lowered their standards, but I know you're creating plenty of culinary delights in your own kitchen. (Hmmm, then again, I guess you could be defined as a "foreigner"...)

      Delete
  6. If I didn't keep vanishing from the blogosphere for weeks on end, I would seriously consider this. I do know that I am definitely going to check out The Ghosts of Nagasaki, by Daniel Clausen. Sounds intriguing,

    Thanks for the tip.

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    1. It's okay if you vanish for weeks on end... as long as you keep coming back. It's always great to hear from you.

      Delete
  7. I remember the days when I would read several books per month. These days I have trouble getting through one book per month. A short story, yes, but otherwise, no chance. I'm spending far too much time reading and commenting on blogs, posting on my own blog, sorting out photos for my blog. Then there are the interruptions. Angel. Cooking and eating. Angel. Shopping for food. Angel. Visiting my kids. Angel. Sleeping. If Angel lets me. You see what I'm up against? And the pile of unread books just keeps growing. I loved "The Help".

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    1. Why, yes, matter of fact, I DO seem to detect a trend there. Sounds like you could differentiate your activities into before-Angel and after-Angel categories. And AFTER is so much better, even if you don't have as much time to read as you used to.

      Delete
  8. The Help was a must read a few summers ago. I was at the shore with my family and when looking around the beach, it seemed that people were either reading that or 50 Shades of Grey. I loved The Help, but skipped the other.

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    1. Yeah, I skipped those "Grey" books, too. Even if I were into reading porn, which I'm not, I heard the writing in them is atrocious. Then again, I don't reckon most of the people reading those books gives a diddle about the literary qualities of their prose...

      But I'm really glad I finally read "The Help." Loved the movie, too.

      Delete
  9. I'm so glad you're enjoying Blogging for Books. The memoir/cookbook looks amazing.

    I loved The Help too. It was one of the few books that really lived up to all the hype.

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    1. I'm so glad you TOLD me about Blogging for Books. I haven't ordered a second book yet, though. We're gonna be doing some traveling, and I thought it best to wait until we get back home.

      Agreed! It's annoying to read a book with a kazillion 5-star ratings, and find it ridiculously mundane.

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  10. I think once I am finished my courses this year, I would like to get into some free books and do some reviews;-)

    I used to read 5-6 books a month... I'd love to get back to reading at least one per month :-)

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    1. Great! Go for it. (After your courses, of course, of course...)

      Delete
  11. Another great foodie book to get for my sister, the chef! My Christmas shopping will be complete soon! Thanks for the recommendation ;-)

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  12. Aha, it seems we both have food on the brain! It must be a July thing. Not long ago, Nancy Mock reviewed Lebovitz's book The Sweet Life in Paris for the Coffeehouse. Here's that post: http://nanmock.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-sweet-life-in-paris-by-david.html

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    1. Hey, I almost always have food on the brain... or in my hand, or in my mouth...

      Thanks for the link. I missed that review, so I'll check it out.

      Delete
    2. Well, son of a gun! As it turns out, I DIDN'T miss that review. I simply forgot it... (oops)

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    3. My wife really likes Lebovitz's books a lot, too.

      Delete
    4. Your wife, um, obviously has good... taste. (groan)

      This was the first book of his I've read, but it won't be the last.

      Delete
    5. Well, her taste in men is questionable... (actually the second time I've made that joke this weekend)

      Delete
    6. HA! That's what my hubby says about me, too.

      Delete
  13. I may not read the cooking book but it sounds like the perfect book for my mom. However, The Ghosts of Nagasaki sounds like something I would definitely enjoy. Oh, and I'm heading over to Blogging for books - thanks!

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    1. If you read "Ghosts..." I'd love to hear your opinion of it.

      Great! I think you'll be tickled with the wide range of books you'll find on Blogging for Books. Have fun!

      Delete
  14. This book is going on my list! It would make a fantastic gift for one of my daughters, a French major in college who has a food blog!

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    1. Perfect! This book sounds made-to-order for your daughter.

      Delete
  15. Sounds like a great read! I'm not a fan of French food after spending a couple of days in Paris in my 30s. Not my thing, for sure. But I love the idea of a cookbook that adds in a personal touch. Kind of like Julie and Julia, only more cookbook!

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    1. If you saw Paris first-hand, it'd be interesting to see how well his descriptions of the city resonated with you. Then again, I imagine the experiences are somewhat different for a visitor and a resident. (Surely you like... French fries! HA)

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    2. Love French fries--they were awful there. I tried hot chocolate, as well--it's not sweet there. People were SO rude, except French men. They're all over women, being all flirtatious and such. We also had to walk the streets to our hotel since the hotel refused to send a shuttle (they need "24 hours notice") and the cab drivers lined up outside the Eurostar wanted $100 USD to take us. There was dog poop on all the sidewalks and the city was disgusting. The tourist area was much better...I have a feeling most people don't see the side of Paris we saw. I doubt I'll go back.

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    3. Well, bummer. THAT doesn't sound very "romantic."

      Actually, Lebovitz commented on the rudeness, too, especially when it came to being pushed around and elbowed when standing in line. He didn't mention a preponderance of dog poop, though.That would certainly stinkify the atmosphere of those sidewalk cafes.

      Delete
  16. Wow! This blogging for books sounds like what I do via NetGalley, only with actual books, not eBooks. I should probably look into it!

    I love the cookbook "plus" recommendations! So many foodies in my life who adore these kinds of books. Thanks!
    Veronica

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    1. Yes, absolutely... look into it! Blogging for Books offers books in both versions.

      Delete
  17. Reading "Impact" by Douglas Preston, it's an adventure, sci-fi thriller, with a healthy dose of James Bond thrown in. Also rereading Carl Sagan's "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors", It's about the evolution of life on Earth.

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    1. Sounds good! I used to love James Bond books, but it's been a long time since I read any of them. Seems to me I read something by Preston... maybe something he co-wrote with Patterson, if I'm remembering correctly.

      Sagan's book sounds good, too. (I sure hope we're still evolving...)

      Delete
  18. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there was a way to incorporate the aroma of all those dishes in a cookbook? I'm a teeny bit jealous of your available reading time. Happy Weekend!

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    1. Yes, yes, YES! What an idea! Can you imagine a "scratch and sniff" for say... coq au vin? Geez, I'm salivating like Pavlov's dog just thinking about it...

      Don't be jealous. You're being oh-so much more productive with YOUR time... you're writing!

      Happy weekend to you, too!

      Delete
  19. Sounds like quite the cookbook indeed
    But I don't even use the stove at my feed lol

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    1. You don't use the stove!
      So what do you do?
      Eat nothing but carry-out
      At your zoo?

      Delete
  20. I can smell the aromas from the kitchen or imagine walking down cobblestone streets of Paris, baguette in hand. Always nice to have a variety of books to read depending on mood. I just finished Stephen King's latest pageturner. Enjoy your weekend

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    1. Yum. Me, too. Garlic, butter, mushrooms and wine can make ANYTHING smell and taste good.

      Hmm, maybe it's time for me to get reacquainted with King. I haven't read anything by him or Koontz for quite a while.

      Happy weekend to you, too!

      Delete
  21. That sounds so good. I rarely cook these days, but I still enjoy reading about it. I think of those days when the Food section of The Washington Post taught me so much.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. I don't cook nearly as much as I used to, because we don't throw parties like we did years ago. But I still enjoy cooking. Good thing, too. Even after all these years, Smarticus still expects three meal a day. Every day! Sheesh.

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    2. Then Smarticus should cook three meals a day.

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    3. Let's put it this way. Years ago, he took care of the kids for a weekend while I went on a retreat with the women's group from our church. He cooked Spam for them on the grill...

      Delete
  22. Blogging For Books... I like it. I'm going to check out that site. Thanks for sharing!

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  23. I'm not one for cookbooks, but "The Ghosts of Nagasaki" sounds fascinating. Makes me think of like "Slaughterhouse Five".

    Also -- just to give you a heads-up: I'm "tagging" you and your blog in a blog-post I'm making Monday, as part of a "Virtual Tour" of writers and other creative artists. No pressure -- I don't really care if you keep the blog-hop going. I just wanted to give you some recognition and a shout-out, and thought you might want to see your smiling face from your stolen profile pic looking back at you from my blog. :)

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    1. "The Ghosts..." is fascinating, but in a different way from "Slaughterhouse Five." Or as Smarticus would say, "Kinda the same, but different."

      Well, cool! Thank you. If my rememberer remembers, I'll stop by on Monday to check it out. And thanks for the warning. It's enough of a shock to see my mug when I happen to notice it in a mirror as I walk by. Seeing it unexpectedly on someone's blog might give me heart palpitations.

      Delete
    2. Not that I would ever suggest that your rememberer needs help remembering, but I remembered to revisit to remind your rememberer. :)

      Delete
    3. HA! Smart man. My rememberer frequently requires a little nudge. Thanks.

      Delete
  24. Mmm, another book for foodies! I have never actually *read* a cookbook before, because I've never bought one of those hybrid memoir-cookbook books. But this one looks very appealing! Regarding the duck fat: I once made some classic New Mexican cookies, called "bizcochitos," with the traditional lard. And ... they tasted like dog food. So good call passing that one by.

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    1. I once belonged to a cookbook book club, so I've got a LOT of cookbooks. However, this is the first time I ever sat down and read one from cover to cover.

      No, I don't think I'd care for cookies made with lard, either. It makes the BEST pie crust, but I'll stick with butter for our cookies.

      Delete
  25. Blogging for Books... Wow! Thank you for sharing. It sounds wonderful.

    Generally I am not big on cookbooks, but this sounds like far more than JUST a cookbook.

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    1. Yeah, WOW! That's what I said, too. I hope it works out for you.

      Exactly. It's a cookbook plus.

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  26. Oh my that book sounds delightful. I love a good cook book, especially with those added touches. I swear they can make a dish!

    On another note, I still need to read The Help. And I stopped reading Nicholas Sparks books because I just wanted to throw them against the wall. His endings are too sad for me. I guess I'm a wuss like that.

    Have a great weekend. :)

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    1. The book really is delightful. It even has some good recipes in it! (What a concept...)

      Yes, you DO need to read "The Help." It is fantabulous. Really. I'm sorry I put off reading it for so long.

      Not ALL of Sparks' endings are sad, but I know what you mean. One of the things that attracts me to his books is it fascinates me how well he describes and expresses "feminine" emotions.

      You have a great weekend, too!

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  27. Thanks for the tip re books available in return for a review. I have one cookbook that my mother gave to me when I got married. It's nearly falling apart from years of use. It's basic simple cooking. I know I'm missing out on becoming a gourmet cook. However, I usually prefer someone else do the cooking, LOL.

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    1. You're welcome. I hope you check it out.

      I've got a couple old cookbooks that are held together mostly by tape and food spills, too. And one that isn't held together at all... just a bunch of loose pages. Somebody else cook? Ooh, that IS a lovely option, isn't it? Our older son is a terrific cook, and our son-in-law cooks for a living, so when we visit them, I thoroughly enjoy partaking in that option. The next generation can cook while I play with the grandchildren.

      Delete
  28. Your reviews are always honest and delectably intriguing. Your love for books and reading never fails to shine through. I've always made it a rule never to review books on my blog (admittedly it's probably a lousy rule). I don't like to play favorites or make enemies or make use of false flattery. Perhaps I'll change my attitude in the future.
    Your generosity to all authors is very admirable.

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    1. No, I'm not really all that "generous" to all authors. The only books I review on my blog are ones I genuinely enjoyed, so it's easy to say good stuff about them. Then again, there's usually something positive to say about most books I disliked, too.

      Delete
  29. I used to buy/get/read a lot of cookbooks, but never a cookbook-memoir combo. I remember when the Internet first got hooked up at our house, I thought of it mostly as "this giant cookbook out there." All these recipes!

    Not that I cooked all that many of them - ha! But at least I stopped spending $30 on a big, fat cookbook where I ended up using one or two recipes over and over again.

    And what a great idea, blogging for free books! Me, I'm so far behind, they'll have to bury me with my iPad.

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    1. I used to belong to a cookbook book club, so I have a lot of terrific cookbooks. This latest one is the first that felt so... like the chef/author was chatting with me. Very cool.

      Yeah, I know what you mean about the bazillions of recipes free for the taking on the Internet. Great, isn't it? But what can I say? I still love my books.

      HA! Good one.

      Delete
  30. SUSAN ~

    >>... Does it contain some wonderful classic French recipes? Yep, but that isn't all it contains.

    As they say, "The proof is in the eating" (or "pudding"). Send me something good to eat and PROVE to me that this was a good book.
    [;-)}

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  31. HA! You clever dog, you. You'll just have to take my word for it. Then again, maybe some of those duck fat cookies would hold up in the mail without getting too terribly rancid.

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  32. So Late today !
    I love that you and The Squid both have cooking books.
    Your second choice sound very interesting. Must look that one up !
    I am trying to post every day about the mass flood of illegals into my state and put my point pf view out into the world, so I am very hit and miss with visiting my friends.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Hey, no rush! You aren't late, but obviously I am. I've missed your blogs about immigration. I reckon I'd better remedy that situation right now!

      Delete
  33. Wow, great timing on the cookbook. What a wonderful way to celebrate Bastille Day! What is it with the French and their duck fat? I suppose if one reasons it out, it isn't all that weird. Lard makes a pretty fine pie crust. Maybe duck fat cookies are a little like a butter cookie only flaky? Can you tell my interest is piqued? :)

    VR Barkowski

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    1. Yeah, I thought the timing was too cool. Duck fat really is tasty, so I get using it for cooking purposes in general, but I'm not so sure about using it to bake. You're right about lard being great for pie crusts, but I don't want to use it for cookies, either. Okay, if your interest is piqued, YOU bake cookies with duck fat, and tell me all about it. If ya want, I'll even send you the recipe from this book.

      Delete
  34. Re: Chas. Clausen; "Plus, that dude really knows how to write." I cannot disagree --but I thought I was dude. Ok, I guess I can share.

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    1. Don't worry. You're the ORIGINAL dude. He's just a cheap imitation.

      Delete
  35. Blogging for Books sounds like a great idea! Who doesn't like free books?

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  36. A great idea. When I started my blog, I'd wanted to do the same (write reviews of music CD's that up-and-coming bands sent me), but it never seemed to pan out (I got a grand total of five CD's), nor did the readership ever come-I guess there are so many avenues to discover music that people do not need to read reviews-they can go to various sites and listen.

    But for books, even if a preview chapter is available, having a review gives a perspective before one shells out their hard-earned shillings...

    Plus you get free books!

    Larry

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    1. Unless one has already established a name as a reviewer through some other medium, I think it'd be difficult to attract followers for a blog based purely on reviews, whether for music, movies, or books. For me, it works better to have a more eclectic blog with a review thrown into the mix every now and then.

      Plus... I get free books!

      Delete
  37. Amazing post! And I love your blog:)
    I am now following you on GFC, follow me back?:)

    theprintedsea.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks so much. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Welcome aboard!

      Delete
  38. "My Paris Kitchen" sounds great! Thanks for the review. Thanks for the information about Blogging for Books too.

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    1. Yeah, it is a pretty terrific book, especially for anyone who likes to cook, or wants to know what it's like to live in Paris.

      You're welcome! I hope you check it out.

      Delete
  39. I love books like that in which you learn things and there are anecdotes, snapshots, and other interesting bits.

    I read from NetGalley and win books as well.

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    1. Me, too! It's like getting two books in one.

      I know. You do a terrific job reviewing and promoting books.

      Delete
  40. sounds like yummy fun, ooo la la!
    and the free part sounds good too!

    wanted to stop by and say thanks for commenting on my broken branch falls blog tour at julie's!

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    1. Yeah, lots of yummy fun!

      It was my pleasure, Tara. Good luck with your book!

      Delete
  41. Blogging For Books sounds like such a great opportunity, and you'll definitely get a lot of mileage out of it. It's terrific that My Paris Kitchen is loaded with cooking tricks! My husband can attest it wouldn't hurt for me to learn a few more tricks, and the kitchen is an ideal place to start!

    Julie

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    1. B4B provides a great way for book addicts like me to get a free fix, and I hope to browse for my second choice soon. (Well, since I'm already pretty handy in the kitchen, my hubby would probably consider it more ideal if I were to start by learning some new tricks for a different room of the house entirely...)

      Delete
  42. That reading/cookbook does sound fun. And 'twas maybe fate indeed, that it arrived on Bastille Day. :)

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    1. It is fun. It did tickle my funny bone that it chose to arrive on Bastille Day, but then again, my funny bone is very sensitive.

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  43. I love leafing through cookbooks. Which is kind of odd, since I don't really care for cooking. Same with cooking shows -- I find them fascinating to watch. I just have no desire to take the activity beyond the vicarious. Though I appreciate tremendously the efforts of those who DO. :)

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    1. Hey, that's not odd at all. After all, I enjoy watching bungee jumpers and sky divers, but there isn't enough money in the world to entice me to ever try it myself.

      Delete
  44. I sometimes wonder if I'm a traitor to my gender because I really don't care for cook books. *ducks for flying fruit* If I want a recipe, I just go to the interwebs and find one I like. (Except for family recipes.) I don't have time for cooking anyway, or at least not much.

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    1. Nah, you're not a traitor to our gender. No more than I am, anyway. (shhhh) I do NOT like to go shopping... unless it's in a food store or antique shop/flea market. I do NOT have a bazillion pairs of shoes, either, and hate to buy new ones. I wear 'em until they're all but falling apart, and only then do I sadly replace them. (But I DO like cheese... and chocolate... and books, even cookbooks.)

      Delete
  45. hey! great review. both sound like wonderful reads - i mean who doesnt enjoy reading about food? ha! i certainly do. and recipes to boot? great. thanks for the tidbit about blogging for book. i am taking that offer. have a super day (wednesday). cheers!!

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    1. Thanks. I'm glad you liked the review, and I hope you enjoy Blogging for Books, too. (Then again, what's NOT to enjoy?)

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  46. i just picked up Carthage by J. C. Oats. should be very interesting. i like her. cheers!!

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    1. I like her, too. Maybe you can join the Coffeehouse crew next month and tell us about it.

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