Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"Skinny Bitch In Love" by Kim Barnouin

Clementine Cooper is a lifelong, committed vegan (except for that one time after high school but she's over it) and well known chef in Los Angeles.  But everything comes crashing down when a fellow chef sabotages her on the day an influential food critic comes to their restaurant.  Before she knows it, Clementine has been blacklisted from every vegan kitchen in the city.

Instead of heading back to the farm, Clementine decides to take this an opportunity to go out on her own and bring her love of the vegan lifestyle to everyone.  She starts up the Skinny Bitch Cooking School out of her own apartment to give private cooking lessons with plans to open her own restaurant in a vacant storefront across the street.  That is until sexy millionaire Zach Jeffries opens up a steakhouse in that very same spot.

Clementine is prepared to go head to head with him over everything they disagree on but she quickly realizes that it's going to be difficult as she has fallen head over heels for him.  Can this vegan date a carnivore and keep her cool?  Or will their relationship get in the way of her clean eating dream?

How do you turn a diet book into a novel?  Kim Barnouin, co-author of the Skinny Bitch lifestyle and cooking series, shows you how in Skinny Bitch in Love.  A novel about love, friendship, and food, it's a light and easy chick lit novel to throw in your purse this summer.

Let's get something out of the way.  The main character is a vegan and yes, a lot of people are going to feel like the book is just propaganda for the vegan lifestyle.  Maybe it is because I already eat a mostly vegetarian/vegan diet that I didn't find it to be over-top.  While I see there were some points where the book did get a little explanatory, I don't think that this will get in the way of enjoying the story for even the most committed carnivore.  The key is to read the book not as a manual or sermon on the vegan lifestyle but a light read about a woman who is vegan.

I think this book is a cute, fun story.  You've got a complicated love story, back-stabbing and revenge, and mouthwatering recipes all wrapped up in one enjoyable book.  For a first shot at writing a chick lit novel, Barnouin has put forth a good offering.  Clementine is a likeable heroine and her friends are all well-written supporting characters.  Each one has their own storyline and has the perfect balance of supporting the story without taking it over.  Even Zach, the guy you really don't want to like, is a good character.  As far as chick lit goes, the book is formulaic, but it works.  

This is exactly the kind of story I like to read in the summer and it fits the label of beach-read perfectly.

Monday, June 17, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

It's been a couple of weeks since I did this post.  Between a few lingering health issues and a busy time for everyone at school, I haven't been doing much reading and there hasn't been much to share.  So it felt like I would just be posting the same thing each week!  However, this past week I've gotten back to reading and hopefully I can resume full blogging duties!

What I've Read In the Last Few Weeks:

On Black Sisters Street by Chika Unigwe
The Offering by Angela Hunt
Skinny Bitch in Love by Kim Barnouin

What I'm Reading Now:
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

What I Plan to Read Next:
I've been saying for a while now that I plan to read A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra next but haven't gotten to it.  So I hope I mean it this time!

What Are You Reading This Week?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

"Dear Sir, I Intend to Burn Your Book" by Lawrence Hill

In June of 2011, Lawrence Hill, author of The Book of Negroes, received an email from a group in the Netherlands letting him know that they were planning to burn his book.  Their anger was over the title, stating that as descendants of those enslaved in the former Dutch colony of Suriname, they found the name of the book offensive.  To show that they would not accept it, they planned a public book burning.

Hill, an accomplished Canadian writer who has tackled the issue of race in many publications, responded with an offer to sit down and discuss the reasoning behind the title and his book's place in history.  But he never received a response to his offer, and on June 22, 2011, the group burned copies of the book jacket in front of television cameras.

Dear Sir, I Intend to Burn Your Book: An Anatomy of a Book Burning is Lawrence Hill's account of this incident and an overall look at the issue of censorship which he gave as the 2013 Henry Kreisel Memorial Lecture at the Canadian Literature Centre at the University of Alberta.  

The Book of Negroes is one of my favourite books.  Also titled Someone Knows My Name in the US and other countries, it is a novel that covers a vast amount of history and the world as it follows a woman, Aminata, who is taken from her home in West Africa, enslaved in the United States, given passage to Canada, heads back to Africa to live in a settlement in Sierra Leone, and finally, moves to London England.  The title comes from an actual historical document titled The Book of Negroes, a historic British military ledger that allowed three thousand Black Loyalists passage on ships sailing from Manhattan to Nova Scotia.  

This is a short book (under 50 pages) but it packs a punch.  Hill looks at the issue with both a serious eye and a sense of humour.  He has always been a person who has been outspoken about the issue of censorship and he was surprised to find one of his works in the midst of it.  Hill looks at the history of slavery in the Netherlands and throughout the world, talks about the time he has spent in the Netherlands (which he considers a second home) and the environment and ideas in which the push for the censorship of books grows.  He is a fantastic writer and this continues his accomplishment of writing about race in a frank and honest way that serves to open up the discussion further.  He tackles the issue of censorship head on and makes a strong case for the freedom to read.

"I wouldn't want any book in a library or bookstore banned, pulled, removed, or burned.  Period.  We can hate them, dissect them, learn from them or praise them, but we need to leave books alone and let readers come to terms with them.  We can teach young people to be aware and to be critical thinkers.  But to believe that we can protect young people from the ideas in literature is self-delusional, in the extreme."  p.15

You can read my review of The Book of Negroes: Illustrated Edition here.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Month in Review

I usually do this on the first day of the month but am posting a little late thanks to health issues.  I have anxiety disorder and unfortunately the last week hasn't been that great.  My Armchair BEA participating dropped off completely thanks to it, but thankfully, I didn't let the anxiety get a good hold on me.

I have no clue how much I read last month, I'll find out now as I make my list! (Number of stars are how I rated the book on GoodReads)

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie *****

The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook ****

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ****

I'm No Angel by Kylie Bisutti ****

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury ****

Just What Kind of Mother Are You by Paula Daly ****

It Happened At the Fair by Deeanne Gist ***

So, I didn't read much at all in May but it looks like what I did read was good.  Hopefully June will be much better for me.


Historical Fiction Reading Challenge (1), Around the World in 80 Books (2).

This Month

I have a lot of great books sitting on my shelf that I want, and need, to get to.  This month I'll be reading Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood for the Classics Club spin.  I've also been really excited for Revenge Wears Prada, the sequel to The Devil Wears Prada, however I need to stop reading reviews as they haven't been very favourable.

Most importantly, this month I'm looking forward to the end of the school year and the end of 7am wake-ups.  Goodbye alarm clock and hello lie-ins!