book reviews

Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison

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Unlike typical cookbooks, Madison organizes her recipes using, “the 12 different families of the animal kingdom”.  In doing so the reader’s eyes are open to the similarities of these vegetables and how to best bring out the flavors of these unique families.  In addition to recipes, this book also contains a wealth of information about each individual vegetable.  Accompanied by stunning photographs, this cookbook is a great way to get fresh ideas for using the vegetables from your summer garden. 

 

All Souls: A Family Story From Southie by Michael Patrick McDonald

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In this devastatingly honest memoir Michael MacDonald, one in a family of ten, recounts his experience growing up in Southie which is one of South Boston’s public housing projects.  Described by all the residents as “the best place in the world”, McDonald has the courage to pull back this veil and tell the emotional and powerful true story.  MacDonald explores the busing riots of the 1970s, Southie’s “no snitch” culture, the loss of four of his own siblings, and the exploits of Whitey Bulgar (the town’s top gangster and father figure).  Through all of this pain and loss McDonald is still able to point out areas of hope and the strong sense of community that is still alive in Southie today.  

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathon Tropper

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No one is more surprised than Judd Foxman when his father passes away.  Not so much by the death, but by the nonreligious patriarch’s last wish to have the family sit Shiva, a Jewish tradition that requires his mother and siblings to spend an entire week together under one roof.  This wouldn’t be so bad if Judd’s family wasn’t so dysfunctional.  As this group of unique characters are forced to spend time together old wounds are brought to surface and they are made to deal with issues they would have rather continued to ignore.  The only family member not present is Judd’s wife who has been openly having an affair.  As Judd unwillingly reconnects with his family and struggles to deal with the reality of his deteriorating marriage what results is a novel full of biting, albeit slightly dark humor with realizations about family life and love.  

Valentine's Day Reads

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There is no better time to curl up with a love story than around Valentine’s Day.  The following are some recent novels that go perfect with the holiday.    

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison:
This quirky love story features a protagonist who may be brilliant, but lacks basic social skills.  Determined to find love he starts “the wife project” using his own calculated plan for finding the right partner.  When he meets Rosie, who is nothing like his ideal partner, his plan goes off course and he sets out to help Rosie with her own project.  In the end the reader is reminded that sometimes love happens when you least expect it.

The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman:
Both romantic and nostalgic in tone, this novel tells the story of Lenka and Josef who are torn apart by war and eventually reunited by fate years later.  Richman manages to deliver a beautiful love story while telling about the real life horrors and hardships of the Holocaust era. 

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell:
This young adult book tugs at the heart strings of all ages.  Set in the 1986, Eleanor is new to town and is seen as an outcast by all of her new classmates including Park.  Eventually the two bond over comics and music which leads to a love that will remind readers of their first time falling in love.   

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