The Last Batch of 2014

January 14, 2015

In my life I am constantly reading and though I try to stay consistent in my reviewing, I am usually a bit behind in that area. Yes, I’ll pause for your gasps of shock and disbelief. It’s a new year and there’s a new crop of books, so I figure why should I bring my backlog with me? So now you’re getting little snapshots of many of the books I read in the latter part of 2014. Some books won’t be mentioned here because I plan to talk about them in a slightly different context. But more on that later.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah follows Nigerian teenagers Ifemelu and Obinze into and out of other countries as they enter adulthood and navigate race, romance, and relationships. Sharp, funny, and fearless, it’s a great read fro pretty much anyone.

 

The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt by Kara Cooney

Hatshepsut was the longest reigning female pharaoh in Ancient Egypt, but her rise to power and the circumstances of her reign are shrouded in secrecy. The language of this book kind of bothered me — the whole thing was necessarily somewhat speculative, but the continuous hedging irked me. I would have preferred a disclaimer at the start that allowed it to be written with clearer, more certain language.

 

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

Boy, Snow, Bird is an enchanting reimagining of a classic tale. This book is masterfully inventive and Oyeyemi’s strong, brilliant, beautiful voice shines through.

 

St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell 

This collection of essays is just as weird as I would expect something from Karen Russell to be. I didn’t like this collection as much as Vampires in the Lemon Grove (which is newer). There is a kind of extra melancholy streak to these stories besides the dark twisty-ness of other stuff of hers that I’ve liked.

 

Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture by Dana Goodyear

Dana Goodyear jumps —tastebuds first— into “foodie” culture and the world of extreme eating, following devotees of ultra-authentic ethnic cuisines, raw food aficionados, and so much more. I would eat maybe two of the things described in this book, but I’m bizarrely fascinated by these people and their lifestyles. Sometimes I wish she would have dug a bit deeper or described a bit more, but this was an enjoyable read.

 

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

A superflu wipes out huge swaths of the population. Fifteen years later, a roving band of actors and musicians travels between communities of survivors performing Shakespeare. The narrative hops between the Traveling Symphony and the decline of civilization immediately after the pandemic. It’s a vivid and utterly transfixing novel.

 

The Martian by Andy Weir

Due to a series of unfortunate events, astronaut Mark Watney is living alone on Mars. And no one knows. With no way to signal Earth, a limited food supply, and a dogged determination to stay alive, Watney puts his skills and smart-assert to the test. I read this in 24 hours. I did not stop. I completely blew off familial obligations while reading this over the holidays. I have no regrets.

 

A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean

This is the first romance novel I’ve read in quite some time, and I really enjoyed it. It’s the first book in the Rules of Scoundrels series which revolves around London’s most exclusive gaming hell. I won’t say much about it, but it’s significantly less ridiculous than a lot of other historical romance tends to be.

 

So now you’re mostly caught up to where I am now with my current reading. As I mentioned before, this isn’t a complete list of everything I’ve read this year, but I think it gives a pretty good picture. There will be a few other things that mention books from 2014, but my 2015 book reviews will start popping up here pretty soon. We’re moving onward!

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I have been MIA for a while, but hey, it’s the end of the semester. I have finished a number of books and will review them… eventually.

My last class is Monday, and then I’m free. Until summer classes start. In any case, I’m eagerly awaiting the end of the semester. I see lots of reading in my future.

Anywho, in the recent days I have taken a turn for the domestic. Perhaps it’s the Spring Cleaning bug, or maybe I’m just using cleaning my apartment and cooking as modes of procrastination.

But seriously, this is the best procrastination ever. Now I have risotto. Risotto, people! Forget ambrosia, this is the food of the gods.

And now I will show you how I made it:

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One day I will master chopping onions into evenly-sized pieces. One day…

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Then you throw the onions and olive oil into a hot pan. Add some chopped garlic and some herbs (I used oregano and rosemary because that’s what I have in my pantry).

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Then throw in the arborio rice and mix it around so everything is coated with the oil.

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Stock time! I use vegetable stock, but I hear using beef broth gives a good flavor too, if you eat meat.

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Let the rice soak up the liquid, while stirring frequently. When you can pull the spoon through and there’s a bit of a delay as it all comes back together, add more stock. Repeat until the rice is cooked.

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Then it’s all nice and creamy and delectable!

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Flavor to taste with salt and pepper.

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And add cheese if you so wish (I definitely wish). Last time I made risotto I had shaved asiago, but this time it’s plain ol’ shredded mozzarella.

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Then pour yourself a glass of wine (or other beverage, I suppose) and enjoy!

This was a lovely little interlude in my weekend, but now it’s back to reality. At least until Monday night.