Book Review: Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals by Dinah Fried

Fictitious Dishes:  An Album of Literatures Most Memorable Meals

I recently picked up Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals by Dinah Fried with the expectation that I’d soon be trying out some new recipes.

I was mistaken.

So my initial reaction to this book was one of disappointment.

But I was still intrigued, as I usually am with anything related to either novels or food {and this had both!} so I sat down and began to read it from the beginning.

I found the author’s description of her process to be quite entertaining, and I think I would have enjoyed hearing more about her story.  After all, she chose some books with which I was completely unfamiliar and some times she chose foods that I wasn’t able to identify or match to the descriptions.  So even though I enjoyed the tidbits of facts on each page, I would have liked a meatier {hehe} explanation.

There were a wide variety of books documented here, from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and The Secret Garden, pictured above, to others like Moby Dick, Lolita, and American Psycho.  I liked finding so many different titles, but there are so many, many more – endless, really – options for inclusion in a book like this, that I kind of found it too short.

I want to make sure that I stress that I really did like this book.  But I also want to stress that it’s a coffee table book, not a cookbook.  Gazing at the creamy chowder and crusty bread in the rustic setting of the author/photographer’s imagining of Moby Dick left me craving a warm soup to combat the dreary, rainy weather I could hear in my memory.

Which also made me realize that the book had accomplished its goals.  The author tells us that she hopes her work will “transport [us] back into fictional worlds,” and for the books we haven’t read, that her photographs are there to “offer a little taste of the stories.”

So not a cookbook.  An art book.  A photography book.  A recipe book, but not recipes of food.  Recipes of the subconscious lingerings that great books leave behind in us.

And once I understood the purpose of the book, I was able to devour it {snicker} with relish {I could do this all day…} and find amusement in the playfulness of the props and the colorful culinary interpretations.

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Book Review: The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani:  a book review by Roaming Rosie

The School for Good and Evil, by Soman Chainani, is a fast-paced fairy tale {somewhat fractured} about two girls searching for their Happily Ever Afters.

But their Happily Ever Afters and their journeys to find themselves are not at all what either girl could ever have imagined.

And it’s fun to read.

It’s a middle-grade novel, written for ages 8 to 12, with the paperback at 544 pages long.

The story begins with two very different girls:  Sophie, a gorgeous wannabe princess who spends her days preening and dreaming of princes, and Agatha, a quiet loner who lives in a graveyard and has a cat named Reaper who leaves beheaded birds in her pockets.

Sophie and Agatha only entered a relationship because Sophie was trying to demonstrate how “Good” and charitable she was by befriending the homely outcast dubbed a witch by the townspeople.  This relationship, however, grew into a real {albeit somewhat unbalanced} friendship before the story even starts.

Their story starts for us as they are kidnapped by the elusive School Master and dropped into the School for Good and Evil.  Unexpectedly, however, Agatha is dropped into the School for Good and Sophie into the School for Evil. Both girls are certain a mistake has been made.

As the book progresses, we see Agatha continually and fiercely trying to protect and help her friend, as Sophie grows more and more selfish and angry.  And even though the characters keep showing us their true natures and showing the audience that maybe, just maybe, they’re in the correct schools after all, the book isn’t that cut and dry.

In between colorful school lessons of witches learning the correct way to cook children and princesses learning how to speak to squirrels, and in between competitions where princes try to discern which magical pumpkin is actually a princess, the children face some very dangerous and quite scary situations.  Which is – actually – very in keeping with the style of fairy tales.

But the point to all of these lessons and competitions and circuses and balls is that we learn that even the baddest of the Bad students have their good points, and even the Good students are perfectly capable of evil.

I rather enjoyed the book, and I was very happy with the way it ended.  Now, when I started reading it, I didn’t even know it was part of a series, but I was relieved to find that out, because when the book ended, I did want to know more of their story, even though it still would have functioned as a stand alone novel.

And it’s all done in a very entertaining way through a story that moves along at a good pace:  fast enough to keep kids and young adults entertained, but not so quickly that things get overwhelming or confused.  The language is intelligent, the imagery is vivid, and the story was creative.  I laughed … I cried … and I totally think everyone who is even remotely and mildly interested in fantasy and fairy tales should read it.  There isn’t anything in there that’s inappropriate for young kids, but I feel that adults will rather enjoy the tongue-in-cheek fairy tale references.  I absolutely plan to read the sequels.

You can see a preview of The School for Good and Evil on Amazon.

Happy Reading!

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Why I Write {a work forever in progress}

snoopy writing at typewriter

Just a few days ago I found myself sitting across from a man that helps people find suitable career paths for a living.

He asked me:  “If you could do anything, what would it be?”

“I’d be a writer,” I said, without even the slightest hesitation.

Because that has ALWAYS been the goal.

When I was about ten, I began writing a, ahem, novel.  It was probably a dozen pages long.  But it was a start.  And I promised myself – promised – that I would have my first novel published by the time I turned eighteen.

Yeah… and then, sometime in my twenties, when I still hadn’t managed to finish any of the novels I’d started, I extended that deadline to my thirtieth birthday.

Which came and went years ago.

So what the hell happened?  I mean, I’ve never completely stopped writing:  I wrote a ton of poems and short stories in college (NONE of which were ever accepted to any of the literary magazines to which I submitted them – yea for motivation…), but I just don’t seem to be on track with my goals.  Why?  What’s happened that’s gotten in my way of pursuing the one thing I believe I was put on this earth to do?

For starters, I don’t write enough.

That’s really one of the big reasons I started this blog.  Sure, I love, love, love posting about recipes and crafts and kid toys (no, really, I do), but if nothing else, it forces me to sit at a keyboard and put words together.

But sometimes that’s easier said then done.

Boromir:  One simply does not start writing without coffee.

For example, coffee is very important.

If there’s not enough coffee surging through my veins, then I don’t really function.  But that can also pose a problem since I get my best writing done at two in the morning.

Well, that and having to get up with my kids when the sun rises.

So, why do I bother?

Why do I keep trying?

you write because you need to write quote

I keep trying because I have to.

And I know I’m not alone.  If the advent of internet memes has taught me nothing, it has taught me this:  I am not alone in my literary torment.

The procrastination gene goes hand in hand with the writing gene.

So, at this point, I haven’t given myself a deadline for completing (or publishing) my next novel.  Mostly in an effort to avoid sobbing fits of devastation.

Instead, I have promised myself to write every day.

I mean, I’m aware that some days there will be very little or no writing done because I will be too busy controlling the beautiful but consuming tornado that is my toddler and preschooler, but I still promised myself I would try.

It’s kind of like a New Year’s Resolution – but for the rest of my life.

How hard could that be…

There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.  Ernest Hemingway quote.

I know I can, I know I can, I know I can.

Because I have to.  I don’t have a choice.

It’s who I am.

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(sources: Boromir pic; Hemingway quote)