Category: Books

[Review] Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

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I had first heard about the New York Times Best Seller “Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II” by Denise Kiernan on the Daily Show as Jon Stewart really loved this book. It sounded pretty interesting, but I had forgotten about it until Heartless Girl gave me the opportunity to read it.

“Girls of Atomic City” is a book about the women who lived in Oak Ridge, Tennessee during the war and how they were instrumental in developing the atomic bomb even though no one, including the workers, knew about it. Oak Ridge itself was an army-run town shrouded in secrecy that wasn’t even on a map. As more and more workers put down roots it became an experiment, not just in physics, but in a social context as well.

No one could talk about work and everyone who worked there was transported from all areas of the country creating an instant sense of camaraderie and community. I liked the book as it followed the lives of some of the women who worked there, referenced the German physicists who discovered nuclear energy (side note: the play Copenhagen is a must read), and examined the scientific breakthroughs that happened at the time.

This book is very well researched and artfully put together; it really feels like a story rather than a work of nonfiction. It truly is an amazing part of history that changed the world forever, not just scientifically, but also for the role of women in society. I would highly recommend it.

Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan
Publisher: Touchstone
Paperback, 400 pages

This is a guest post from Jennifer. Jennifer is a bibliophile living in the ‘burbs, but remains a city girl at heart.  When her nose isn’t in a book she is crocheting up a storm. Oh, and one time a Starbucks barista invited her to their wedding solely based on the fact she goes every morning for a decaf mocha. So, there’s that.

Delicious! by Ruth Reichl

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Billie Breslin has traveled far from her home in California to take a job at Delicious!, New York’s most iconic food magazine. Away from her family, particularly her older sister, Genie, Billie feels like a fish out of water—until she is welcomed by the magazine’s colorful staff. She is also seduced by the vibrant downtown food scene, especially by Fontanari’s, the famous Italian food shop where she works on weekends. Then Delicious! is abruptly shut down, but Billie agrees to stay on in the empty office, maintaining the hotline for reader complaints in order to pay her bills.

To Billie’s surprise, the lonely job becomes the portal to a miraculous discovery. In a hidden room in the magazine’s library, Billie finds a cache of letters written during World War II by Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, to the legendary chef James Beard. Lulu’s letters provide Billie with a richer understanding of history, and a feeling of deep connection to the young writer whose courage in the face of hardship inspires Billie to comes to terms with her fears, her big sister and her ability to open her heart to love.

A must for all food lovers, Delicious will feel like an indulgence with each page turn. I loved reading about the curious cast of characters that worked at Delicious. Billie’s taste buds are nothing short of amazing, but she won’t cook. If she even begins to think about it, she gets anxious.

The description of food is so vivid that you’ll find yourself longing for a piece of salami or a taste of cake. This book combines history, romance and food to create a tale you won’t be able to put down. I really enjoyed this book, and I’m sure you will too!

 

 

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki [Review]

thisonesummerI’ve been a fan of Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki ever since their first graphic novel, Skim. Jillian forever endeared herself to me for drawing Scarborough in her novel in such a beautiful way.

Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki are seriously talented cousins. Mariko writes the story and Jillian illustrates. In This One Summer, they’ve perfectly captured the quintessential Canadian cottage experience.
ThisOneSummer2 thisonesummer1This One Summer deals with some pretty heavy topics in a lazy Ontario cottage town. Julia enjoys typical cottage activities like hanging out with her friend, crushing on boys, going swimming and watching terrifying horror movies.

However, she’s also dealing with the fact that her parents seem to be getting further apart each day, and her mother is distant. Her friend is a little younger than her, and Julie is starting to mature faster than her. Even the teenager that she has a crush on has major issues to deal with. It all comes together in a dramatic climax.

It’s beautiful to see Jillian’s stunning brushwork and curling speech bubbles. She’s such a talented illustrator, and whenever these cousins pair together there’s bound  to be magic.

The book launches this week at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. Check it out below!

This One Summer Book Launch ft. Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki with Hannah Sung
Sunday May 11, 2014
7:00pm – 9:00pm
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St.
Free Event
Facebook Details

 

My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz

Copyright © David Lebovitz
Copyright © David Lebovitz

A collection of stories and 100 sweet and savory French-inspired recipes from popular food blogger David Lebovitz, reflecting the way Parisians eat today and featuring lush photography taken around Paris and in David’s Parisian kitchen.

My Paris Kitchen manages to both make me long for Paris and feel like I am in Paris. David Lebovitz is an American food blogger that moved to Paris ten years ago. He shares his stories and recipes about Paris in this book. The photography is gorgeous and will make you see the beauty in a stick of butter. (more…)

April Reads

Looking for something new to read this month? Whether it’s YA, cooking or mystery, I’ve got you covered!
allmypunysorrows
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews (April 15th)

You won’t forget Elf and Yoli, two smart and loving sisters. Elfrieda, a world-renowned pianist, glamorous, wealthy, happily married: she wants to die. Yolandi, divorced, broke, sleeping with the wrong men as she tries to find true love: she desperately wants to keep her older sister alive. Yoli is a beguiling mess, wickedly funny even as she stumbles through life struggling to keep her teenage kids and mother happy, her exes from hating her, her sister from killing herself and her own heart from breaking.

 

circus Circus by Claire Battershill (April 8th)

As they transport us from a crowded airport departure lounge to the stillness of the British Museum, and from the spectacle of the Winter Olympics to the modesty of a local Miniatureland, these radiant stories explore the often surprising things we’re willing to do for love and human connection. Fed up with his long history of failed blind dates, a shy English bureaucrat gives himself thirty-one days to find love on the Internet. A father buys his daughter a blue plastic tent to ready her for outdoor adventure, but neither is prepared when the tent becomes a neighbourhood sensation. The world of competitive sports provides the backdrop for a young man’s coming of age in “Two-Man Luge: A Love Story.” And in the award-winning title story, the granddaughter of a former circus performer (who played the role of a man-wrestling bear) finds herself grappling with the capriciousness of life and love.

 

mypariskitchen My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz (April 8th)
A collection of stories and 100 sweet and savory French-inspired recipes from popular food blogger David Lebovitz, reflecting the way Parisians eat today and featuring lush photography taken around Paris and in David’s Parisian kitchen.

seaofshadowsSea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong (April 8th)
In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.
Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.
Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court–one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

listen-to-the-squawking-chickenListen to the Squawking Chicken, Elaine Liu (April 1)
Listen to the Squawking Chicken is a loving mother-daughter memoir that will have readers laughing out loud, gasping in shock, and reconsidering the honesty and guts it takes to be a parent. Read my review!

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt

siri

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt is a complex telling of the life of artist Harriet Burden whose art installations go unnoticed or dismissed throughout her lifetime.  Harriet, herself, goes by “Harry” and never fails to remind everyone that if she was born a man, her art would be appreciated and revered.  Harry, herself, is a loud, brash woman who likes to quote controversial and abstract philosophers at dinner parties and is described at times as being like a larger than life cartoon.

(more…)

Listen to the Squawking Chicken by Elaine Lui [Review]

listen-to-the-squawking-chicken

Listen to the Squawking Chicken had me Googling the meaning of moles on my face and calling girls “low classy” under my breath.

I don’t read very much biography, but I loved this book. I also don’t know much about Lainey Gossip (my sister saw me reading this book and filled me in) so I was able to read this book without a preconceived notion of who Elaine is.

I devoured the Squawking Chicken over Chinese New Year weekend in equal parts delight, horror and fascination.

Delight, because parts of Elaine’s coming of age story is very funny. Bra shopping with her mother, making friends, bringing home new boyfriends- hilarious. This book explores the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters. It’s clear that Elaine loves and respects her mother and values her advice above all things.

Horror, because I’m a big wimp. As a rule, I try to avoid horror at all costs. From books, to television to haunted houses at Halloween.

The first chapter, “Never Bring Home an Umbrella from the Street,” terrified me. It’s safe to say that this chapter has ended my habit of picking up interesting things from the street. This chapter is full of folklore from China and superstitious things that happened in the Squawking Chicken’s past.  In fact, this whole book is steeped in superstition and stories.

The Squawking Chicken is a devout believer in Feng Shui. When Elaine was younger, she had a mole on her face. Her mother made her remove it because according to Feng Shui someone with a mole in that position would die by age 22 by drowning. Ahh!  (I wish I could tell you that I didn’t research the moles on my face, but I totally did.)

This goes for everything, from the food you eat to buying a house. As Elaine says,

The point is, you just have to believe. That’s it. And if you don’t believe, well, you’ll see. That’s Feng Shui blackmail, the “or else” is always implied. ….The “or else” would hang there, over my head, like an upside-down-jack-in-the-box just waiting to pop out and fuck me up.

Fascination, because the story of the Squawking Chicken is really, really interesting. From her childhood, to her marriage, I remained captivated. The harrowing tale of how she became the squawking chicken will stay with you.

I loved reading about Chinese cultural tidbits. The way money is viewed, certain numbers and traditions were fun to learn about. I related with Elaine’s boe doe, the habit of checking in with her mother. Whatever she’s doing, wherever she’s going, she always checks in with her mother. In this way, I’m like this too.

If you’re a fan of Lainey Gossip, you definitely need to read this book. If you aren’t a fan of Lainey Gossip, by the end of Listen to the Squawking Chicken you are guaranteed to be a fan of Elaine Lui, and her mother too.

Listen to the Squawking Chicken by Elaine Lui
Publisher: Random House
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published: April 1, 2014

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