Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A Coupla More Reviews

Ya know, there just aren't that many Ken Folletts around these days.  He is, of course, the master at making the 3rd book in his trilogies (see Edge of Eternity - haven't read A Column of Fire yet) as, or almost as, good as the 1st 2.  Well, kudos to JoJo Moyes.  Still Me, the sequel to Me Before You (4/4) and After You (3.75/4), falls right into place with 1 & 2.  I gave this one a 3.75/4.  I mean, c'mon, 11.5/12?  That's crazy good.

You don't need the blurb.  It's all about Louisa, of course.  The big change from the 1st 2 is that it takes place mostly in New York.  Other than that, it's Louisa, Louisa, and more Louisa.  And she is a great character.  But what I really like about Moyes' writing is how she combines humor with poignancy with chills with cheers effortlessly.  I laughed 4 different times on page 47, got emotional on page 54, and had a big smile on page 57.  And when it came to the final scene, I put my hand over the whole page and dropped it line by line.  I did NOT want to know what happened ahead of time (unlike Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally!).

If you haven't read any of this series, I would strongly recommend that you remedy that flaw in your literary character.  If you've read 1 & 2 but not 3, you might want to get your hands on it pretty soon (if you don't want to buy a hardcover, then maybe it's available in your local library - or I can loan it to you).  I will definitely read anything that Moyes writes.

This brings me to my 2nd review.  The book is called the recipe box, and it is written by Viola Shipman.  I call this book a Melissa Special.  Can you figure out why?  Yep.  It's because it's another recommendation from my recommending guru, Melissa (clever moniker, no?).  I liked it a lot. And this time I will give you a synopsis.

Growing up in northern Michigan, Sam felt trapped by her family's orchard and pie shop, where generations before her have lived and run the business.  She left with dreams of becoming a classically trained pastry chef and making her own mark in the world.  But life as an overworked, undervalued sous chef at a reality star's New York bakery is not what Sam imagined, and she returns home to take inventory.
One beloved flour-flecked, ink-smeared family recipe at a time, Sam begins to learn about and understand the women in her life, her family's history, and her passion for food through their treasured recipe box.  As Sam discovers what matters most in her life, she opens her heart to a man she left behind but who now might be the key to her happiness.

In the last 12 months, I've read several food-related books.  And I've liked them all.  This one certainly fit right in there.  I liked the story.  I liked the recipes.  I liked the characters.  I liked the emotional connection I made with just about all of them (there were definitely some tears, chills, and even nervousness).  And I liked Viola's writing. (BTW, did you know that Viola Shipman is actually a man?  I didn't either, until I read the bio on the back flap.)  Here are a couple of examples showing how the author painted such strong visuals:

"In the near distance, the cornfields seemed to move as if they were doing the wave at a football game..."
"Sam slowed in traffic, her head bobbing left and right like one of those dogs people put in their back windows..."

The only criticism I have, and it's a pretty small one, is that especially in the first part of the book there was too much repetition of certain words.  It kind of distracted me (not a difficult feat).  But it got better as the book went along, and I ended up forgetting about it.  Do you remember the story about the Christopher Reich book I read in which the author said "Just then" about every 10th page?  It drove me nuts to the point where I felt I had to message him.  He acknowledged me politely (we all know what he told his family and friends).  This one was not nearly as bad.  And if these are not the kinds of things in books that you notice, then it will be no problem for you.

Despite my Scrooge-like, Bah Humbug comment, I liked this a lot and gave it a 3.5/4.