Monday, February 6, 2017

Julie and Julia: LFB Reviews

Week 4:
Julie & Julia, My Year of Cooking Dangerously
Adult Memoir/Cooking/Humour
The Movie Adaptation
by Julie Powell

I was putting some cookbooks away at the Library Friends Bookshop and I came across Julie & Julia.

Firstly, it caught my eye because it isn't really a cookbook, and in my humble and unschooled library-bookshop-volunteer opinion, it shouldn't have been shelved with them. There are no real recipes in the book, although there are lots of references to Julia Child's Mastering The Art of French Cooking. The Memoirs are shelved very close to the Cookbooks in our wee little shop, and I guess I can see how the mis-shelving could have happened.

Secondly, I'm a purist when it comes to book-to-movie adaptations and I've passed by the Julie & Julia movie many, many times on Netflix or On Demand because I hadn't read the book. Why would I want to ruin the book? In my humble and unschooled movie-connaisseur opinion, book-to-movie adaptations are so much more enjoyable when you've read the book first and have a bit of background info...although sometimes the screenwriters/director fail miserably at bringing my mental picture to life. It's a problem.

The original cover (not the movie version) of this copy made it even more appealing and I may be one of the only book lovers on the planet who hadn't read this book...Soooo, into my bag of goodies it went.

Now I have to say that this book is the reason why I started LFB reviews. I picked this book up just after New Years, and I was looking for a project. Something to energize my writing. Something to push me forward and make me see alternative ways of doing things. Similarly, Julie Powell was feeling a trifle stagnant in 2004, when she picked up Mastering the Art of French Cooking and for some insane reason  decided to spend 365 days cooking up every single recipe in the book and blogging about it daily.

If you've seen Mastering the Art..., you'll recognize that this was no easy undertaking. Julia cooks with calves hooves, with freshly-scraped bone marrow, with quails eggs and pigeon and any number of bizarre ingredients that are not readily available, even in modern-day New York City.

On top of all of this, Julie is in a dead-end job (sorting through the aftermath of 9/11) and still in love with her patient high-school sweetheart while all of her friends are having crazy-exciting affairs. She has a tightly-wound biological clock with incoming pressure from her parents, and is moving to another (under ventilated and mouldy) apartment. She deals with black-out power outages and unexpected blog popularity, and even the death of Julia Child, herself.

Being a rather lackadaisical blogger, I am in awe of Julie Powell's determination to not only cook something crazy every day, but to blog about it EVERY DAY. That's insane. Seriously. Who does that? All while dealing with all of the other things that life threw at her, and while maintaining her sense of humour. It's pretty amazing.

Her writing is humorous, poignant and un-pretentious...all three things I need right now in a book. We all could use a good laugh in today's world climate. It's a book you can put down for a few days and not feel lost when you pick it up again--although you won't want to put it down in the first place.

I loved it. It inspired me. The result is my tiny commitment to read and review books from the LFB, and share them with you. Heck, if Julie can write a blog while cooking calves hooves in a New York City loft, I can put a few words down more regularly.

So there you go.

Total Keeper (10) to Back to the Library Friends Bookshop Post-Haste (1)?

A good, solid 9.5/10. If you haven't read it yet, you should go get it. 

Incidentally, I searched for Julie's original blog, and although there are lots of references, I couldn't find it. But you can my other LFB reviews here:

My Name is Memory
The Bar-Code Tattoo


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

My Name Is Memory: LFB Reviews

Week 2 and 3:
My Name is Memory
Adult Action/Adventure/Romance
by Ann Brashares

I loved the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants books. LOVED them. My copies have been read and re-read and passed on and passed back. And I'm always curious how an author with a well-known series of YA books moves on to something else afterward--like J.K. Rowling after Harry Potter. My Name is Memory came into the Library Friends Bookshop three weeks ago, and I hadn't read it, so into my bag of goodies it went.

Although Sisterhood is considered YA, this book is not. It is, however, an adult book with a YA bent, as the book opens up with two high school kids around the time of graduation. Daniel 'remembers' Lucy from a previous fact from many, many previous lives...but she does not remember him.

It's a cool concept, starting their relationship in ancient civilizations, and then following their connections from life to life, never quite connecting in the right age-level or circumstances. Always close enough that he could be with her, but not close enough that they could be together as a couple. Though the concept is fantasy, the lives are told in very real terms, and the two fall in love in various ways throughout many different centuries and settings.

But then there's the evil older brother Joaquim, who also remembers, and who has made it his purpose through time to hurt Daniel through his infatuation with Lucy.

The story dances through time until modern day, when the three come together a final time to determine their fates.

I very much enjoyed this book, but the ending...not so much. I don't think it can be compared to the Sisterhood books, as it's such a different premise, but Ms. Brashares still writes with a quiet, lyrical style. I loved how the stories mixed and mingled, with different situations each time, but I felt the ending did not suit the intensity of the story.  I hope that's because Ms. Brashares is setting it up for a sequel, but I'm not sure the storyline warrants it. I guess we will all have to wait to find out.

On a scale of Total Keeper (10) to Back to the Library Friends Bookshop Post-Haste (1)?

I give it a 6/10. I'll keep it, but would have liked a better conclusion to what was a fabulous love story through time.