Sunday, October 26, 2014

North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland

North: The New Nordic Cuisine of IcelandNorth: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland by Gunnar Gíslason

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

To me, cookbooks should be about usefulness. Anything else is usually just a bonus. This book is very beautiful and has some wonderful anecdotes and interviews, but the recipes are not very utilitarian. Here's what you need to know if you are considering buying this book:

Most of the recipes in this book require you to make part of it ahead of time, usually an oil or dairy sauce, some of it needing a day or weeks.
Many recipes require ingredients that are obscure and difficult to find. I spent a great deal of time searching the internet for substitute ingredients for those I could not find, and I did look in many different stores.
Not all the equipment used to make these dishes was familiar to me, that's not to say that I have an extremely extensive knowledge of kitchen equipment or gadgets.
I'm confident this is not your everyday Icelandic food cookbook. It would be great if you want to make a meal that will make an impression on dinner guests, but not so much for everyday use.

I did make one recipe from the book, it's really the only one I felt I could even attempt and, even then, I modified it quite a bit.
I made the fried goose breasts. My dad had just happened to get a freezer full of goose from a hunting buddy of his wo it worked out quite well in that regard. Unfortunately, I didn't really study the recipe itself ahead of time, just the ingredient list. I didn't realize I needed to make one of the oils a day in advance so I had to fudge that a bit. I'd also never heard of an immersion circulator so I did not attempt the celery root puree. Despite all this, the goose turned out very good. I might make this again if I wanted to make something that looked fancy but otherwise I probably would make something more simple. I didn't time how long it took, but it was somewhere in the one-two hour range.

All in all, a very beautiful book but only useful for special occasions.

This review is based on a free copy received from It no way influenced this review.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

The Legend of Sleepy HollowThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've seen several movies of this story but I'd never actually read it before and figured it was about time. The movies have been very faithful over the years. If you've seen the Disney cartoon version, that's pretty much it. The one thing that I'd never noticed before is how much Disney's Beauty & the Beast borrows from this tale. Kind of interesting side note.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Outpost by Christopher Hill

Outpost: Life on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy: A MemoirOutpost: Life on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy: A Memoir by Christopher R. Hill

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I heard about this book, I thought it would be interesting to learn about how the life of a diplomat works but I expected it to be somewhat dry and boring in the telling. Quite the opposite with this book. Well, half opposite, it was still very interesting. This book covers the entire span of Hill's career, starting with the Peace Corp on up to his time in Iraq in 2009. It's a good look at how this portion of the political machine operates as well as being a fascinating snapshot of some pivotal moments in recent history.

This review is based on a free copy obtained from GoodReads First Reads.

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín

Nora WebsterNora Webster by Colm Tóibín

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Some books you read slowly because you just can't get engaged, or maybe you find yourself slowing down to process all the information. I found myself reading this book slowly because each chapter felt like a poetry collection. I had to pace myself and allow myself a dollop of a chapter from time to time so I could have the proper amount of time to savor and appreciate what I'd just read. It's been a long time since I've read a novel and wondered at the beauty of the phrasing.
Nora herself is a very interesting character. She is quietly strong, considering the story is told from her perspective. Her husband is also an interesting character. You learn very little about him even though his influence on the tale is pervasive.
Really, an exceptional book. I need to look for more by this author.

This review is based on a free e-galley received from

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Monday, October 6, 2014

A Cool and Lonely Courage by Susan Ottaway

A Cool and Lonely Courage: The Untold Story of Sister Spies in Occupied FranceA Cool and Lonely Courage: The Untold Story of Sister Spies in Occupied France by Susan Ottaway

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Stories like these are so amazing. There have to be hundreds, if not thousands, of tales of bravery and courage by people that we have never heard of. War shows us so much of the ugly side that some human beings possess but it also shows us greatness and a depth of resolution that people might not even realize they are capable of harnessing. Truly inspirational.

This review is based on a free copy received through GoodReads First Reads.

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Waistcoats & WeaponryWaistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Any book that can make me laugh out loud is excellent in my mind. I think one of the things I really enjoy about Carriger is that she seems to have so much fun with these stories. The only downside to this book is that it feels like one of those odd in-between stories. It seemed like the plot wasn't that strong on its own and was just a bridge between the last book and the next.

This review is based on a free advanced e-edition from

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