Sunday, March 3, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. For this meme, bloggers post what they finished last week, what they're currently reading, and what they plan to start this week.
My comments are not meant to be recaps of the story lines as I include a link to Goodreads for their synopsis of the book. I am merely stating how I felt about the book without giving any spoilers.

Lost Memory of Skin

This was an intriguing look into the lives of homeless people and especially convicted sex criminals released on parole. I had never thought about some of the issues they face as they continue to be condemned to a half life of homelessness and electronic surveillance. So much for rehabilitation when the conditions of your release restrict you to living in a city under a bridge, in a shanty if you're lucky and a tent if you're not. 

Yes, Chef: A Memoir

It begins with a simple ritual: Every Saturday afternoon, a boy who loves to cook walks to his grandmother’s house and helps her prepare a roast chicken for dinner. The grandmother is Swedish, a retired domestic. The boy is Ethiopian and adopted, and he will grow up to become the world-renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson. This book is his love letter to food and family in all its manifestations.    
Marcus Samuelsson was only three years old when he, his mother, and his sister—all battling tuberculosis—walked seventy-five miles to a hospital in the Ethiopian capital city of Addis Adaba. Tragically, his mother succumbed to the disease shortly after she arrived, but Marcus and his sister recovered, and one year later they were welcomed into a loving middle-class white family in Göteborg, Sweden. It was there that Marcus’s new grandmother, Helga, sparked in him a lifelong passion for food and cooking with her pan-fried herring, her freshly baked bread, and her signature roast chicken. From a very early age, there was little question what Marcus was going to be when he grew up.
Yes, Chef chronicles Marcus Samuelsson’s remarkable journey from Helga’s humble kitchen to some of the most demanding and cutthroat restaurants in Switzerland and France, from his grueling stints on cruise ships to his arrival in New York City, where his outsize talent and ambition finally come together at Aquavit, earning him a coveted New York Times three-star rating at the age of twenty-four. But Samuelsson’s career of  “chasing flavors,” as he calls it, had only just begun—in the intervening years, there have been White House state dinners, career crises, reality show triumphs and, most important, the opening of the beloved Red Rooster in Harlem. At Red Rooster, Samuelsson has fufilled his dream of creating a truly diverse, multiracial dining room—a place where presidents and prime ministers rub elbows with jazz musicians, aspiring artists, bus drivers, and nurses. It is a place where an orphan from Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, living in America, can feel at home. 
With disarming honesty and intimacy, Samuelsson also opens up about his failures—the price of ambition, in human terms—and recounts his emotional journey, as a grown man, to meet the father he never knew.Yes, Chef is a tale of personal discovery, unshakable determination, and the passionate, playful pursuit of flavors—one man’s struggle to find a place for himself in the kitchen, and in the world.

As a big fan of all cooking reality shows this book describes in details how onerous working in a restaurant kitchen is. 
For a black aspiring chef it is even harder to break into the old boys' club.
His total passion for food and flavours and the creation of his menu items was mouth-watering. I never got tired of reading about his dishes.
He provides great detail about his journey from his adopted grandmother's kitchen in Sweden to his planning  a White House dinner for Obama and hosting it while competing on Top Chefs.He then plans and executes a Pan-African restaurant in Harlem. His menu highlights some Swedish dishes and soul food dishes, reflecting the culture of his adopted parents and his restaurant's historic neighborhood.

Kill Your Friends: A Novel

AS the twentieth century breathes its very last, with Britpop at its zenith, twenty-seven-year-old A&R man Steven Stelfox is slashing and burning his way through London's music industry. Blithely crisscrossing the globe in search of the next megahit--fueled by greed and inhuman quantities of cocaine--Stelfox freely indulges in an unending orgy of self-gratification. But the industry is changing fast and the hits are drying up, and the only way he's going to salvage his sagging career is by taking the idea of "cutthroat" to murderous new levels.

I brought the hard copy with me from home with the intentions to read it here and then donate it to the
lending library. I'd be interested to hear from whomever read it after me thought.

I am not a prude by any measure but this book bored the living daylights out of me. I'm not saying it isn't a good storyline and I am sure it is a picture of the reality of the music business as 1990s were finishing.
It was hard to get into this novel "Kill Your Friends," since I'm not exactly fluent in vitriol. It is pages and pages of a man angrily screaming British slang for cocaine in your face, spit foaming at the corners of his mouth. I found myself skimming the pages just to see if the Stelfox got caught as I sincerely wanted him to.

Autographs in the Rain
As Skinner takes an evening stroll with a gorgeous film star on his arm, surely the worst of his worries is back at Headquarters, where a new colleague is scheming to enlarge his territory at Skinner's expense. But when a gunshot has Skinner and his old flame diving for cover, it seems danger has zeroed in on him again.

Picked up at the poolside library. I typically like Jardine but so far I am not really interested in the politics of the police officers in the story, too many of them.
I am interested in the police procedural within the politics so far even though I have a good idea who the 
culprit is. I hope it proves me wrong.
Finished it and thankfully I was proved wrong which made for a great ending.


The Age of Miracles
On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, 11-year-old Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life--the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

With spare, graceful prose and the emotional wisdom of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker has created a singular narrator in Julia, a resilient and insightful young girl, and a moving portrait of family life set against the backdrop of an utterly altered world.

I am going to time out on this book as it is due back at the library. I will be checking it out again though so I can finish it.


  1. Wow, you have several intriguing looking books, like Lost Memory of Skin and Autographs in the Rain.



  2. Yes Chef! sounds very good. I love books that are kind of true, but not completely - or that sound like they could be true :)

    Here's my It's Monday.

    Have a wonderful week.

  3. Interesting line up. Happy Reading.