Skip to main content


Showing posts from September, 2016

My Review of "The Tea Planter's Wife"

Dinah Jefferies' The Tea Planter's Wife is a fun novel that vividly depicts the 1920s.  Gwendolyn Hooper, her 19-year-old heroine, speaks for an empire-branded breed of gutsy young British women who left the security of England to embark on extraordinary adventures abroad.  Not the back-packing, "lonely planet" travels of today, gap-year kids constantly connected with the folks back home via internet and smartphones, and usually safely and predictably back home for good inside a year.  Girls like Gwen married men who made their living and fortunes out in the colonies -- or what until very recently had been colonies -- and went out to join them, standing shoulder-to shoulder with their husbands to face down hardship, danger, disease, monsoon, drought, and not least the simmering and sometimes murderous resentment of locals.

That makes The Tea Planter's Wife so much more than a love story -- it's a recognition that girls like Gwen had guts, and commi…

My Review of "Against All Grain Celebrations"

Danielle Walker's Against All Grain Celebrations is a cookbook with 125 recipes for grain-free, dairy-free, gluten-free comfort food recipes for holidays and special occasions.  When people adopt a new diet for health or personal reasons, it's the parties, holidays, and events with strong food traditions they worry about most.  Against All Grain provides recipes and menus for twelve special occasions, from a child's birthday party and baby shower, to a backyard barbeque, romantic Valentine's Day dinner for two, and even a Halloween party.  Of course, Thanksgiving, Christmas dinner, New Year's Eve party, and Easter/Passover brunch are also covered -- along with suggestions for beverages and cocktails and the all-important desserts.  Nearly every recipe is photographed, and food and party images shot on location provide beautiful and creative entertaining ideas.  Delicious and easy-to-prepare dishes encourage the whole family to get into the kitchen and c…

My Review of "Mamaleh Knows Best"

Marjorie Ingall's Mamaleh Knows Best: What Jewish Mothers Do to Raise Successful, Creative, Empathetic, Independent Children gives us an insightful and humorous parenting manual that takes into account just about every issue a parent might encounter.

Ingall begins by explaining the history of the stereotypical Jewish mamaleh and her age-old wisdom, and goes on to tackle topics such as maintaining discipline, distrusting authority, and emphasizing education without fetishizing it.  The ultimate goal is "to keep our kids from becoming schmucks" and raise "self-sufficient, ethical, and accomplished kids".  It a guide for parents, whether Jewish, Christian, or Muslim.  While Ingall throws around Yiddish words (a glossary at the end will help) like a comedy routine that is full of chutzpah and pizzazz, Mamaleh Knows Best implores parents to be firm and sincere, and help their children create meaning in their lives.  It helps them navigate those perilous waters …