Category Archives: Light Pulp

Listening: ‘Pain Killer’ by Little Big Town.

Continuing on my journey of listening to country albums form 2014… I’ve been jamming out to Little Big Town’s “Pain Killer” the past few weeks.

This was the first album from Little Big Town that I’ve listened to, and really the only song from them I’d paid much attention to was “Girl Crush”, which is track 5 on the album.

Although I like “Girl Crush”, I ended up liking a few songs even more! My favorite song on this album is “Stay All Night” and I could see it being my summer anthem for… well, the rest of my life.

Oh, wish this drink would never end
Hell, I just caught my second wind
Why don’t the good stuff ever last
It comes and goes and it goes so fast
They’re shuttin’ it down and turn on the lights, yeah
Wish we could stay all night

I also really enjoyed “Day Drinking” – “Don’t want to wait til the sun’s sinking, We could be feeling all right, I know you know what I’m thinking, Why don’t we do a little day drinking.” This song reminds me of game days, and also anytime I’ve been on a boat. It’s a fun track.

“Good People” is another lighthearted one, and it was fun to sing along to. And finally, I love “Live Forever”, even though it made me tear up a few times – it’s a beautiful song and I found it got stuck in my head a lot.

One cool thing about Little Big Town is that the group is comprised of so many different voices, each track has a little bit of a different sound. Of course, that doesn’t work out well if you’re not a fan of everyone in the group, but I liked it.

The tracks were fun, but they were also soulful at times, and I heard a few hints of Bonnie Raitt in there that I really enjoyed.

Little did I know that “Pain Killer” is the groups’ 6th album, so it looks like I’ve got some catching up to do – I’ll have to check and see what the library has in stock!

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BBC: ‘The Dinner’.

I certainly have much more on my mind than my latest read, but for now, I’m sticking to my journal until I’m ready to talk about the bigger things swirling around. Besides, I’m trying to post my book reviews ASAP and keep up with my reading list this year!

So, let’s get to it! The latest read from Blanche’s Book Club is “The Dinner” by Herman Koch. The Amazon description of the book was very garbled, so I found one from NPR:

Food doesn’t matter much in novels. Years will pass in a person’s life without a single description of a snack. Not a moment between adverbs for a taco. No wonder so many characters in contemporary fiction are glum: They’re not hopeless; they’re hungry.

In his new book, The Dinner, Dutch author Herman Koch structures his entire plot around a five-course meal, going from aperitif to digestif. The novel was originally published in the Netherlands in 2009 and went on to become an international best-seller. It’s the story of two couples meeting for dinner in a sophisticated Amsterdam restaurant, the type of place where every item on the menu practically comes with a birth certificate, and in very small portions. As Koch writes, “The first thing that struck you about Claire’s plate was the vast emptiness. Of course I’m well aware that, in the better restaurants, quality takes precedence over quantity, but you have voids and then you have voids. The void here, that part of the plate on which no food at all was present, had clearly been raised to a matter of principle.”

But all the eating is cover for nasty events. The four people at the table, two brothers and their wives, have come together for an uncomfortable conversation. One of the brothers is a famous politician. The other is a retired teacher. They don’t get along, but their sons do, and it turns out the boys have done something awful. Something so upsetting it has shocked the entire nation after footage of their crime turned up on the nightly news. However, the video did not show the boys’ faces, leaving them anonymous for the moment, and now their parents must decide what to do next.

The food-as-a-cover was an interesting and unique approach, however, I felt the book didn’t get to the point (the talk of the boys and their possible involvement in a crime) until the main course, which was more than halfway through the book!

While it was certainly interesting, I was feeling very impatient while reading this book – and I wanted more details upfront. For the first time, in at least awhile, I’m not going to recommend this book to anyone. If you’ve read it, and liked it, I’d love to hear your thoughts! I’d been waiting on this book to come up on my reserve list for awhile, so I’m disappointed that I didn’t enjoy it more.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club is reading is, “Most Talkative” by Andy Cohen.

BBC: ‘Are You Sleeping?’

Greetings! It’s so cold in Austin right now – I’m writing this from the comfort of my couch after eating a hot bowl of homemade tomato soup with a grilled cheese (both vegan)! I’m also watching reruns of “The Hills”, and all I can really say is, thank YOU, MTV.

But anyway, I’ve got a ton on my mind, but I’ve also got a giant to-do list and lots of things ahead. I’ll just have to report back later. For now, let’s talk about the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club, “Are You Sleeping?” by Kathleen Barber. Here’s the official description from Amazon:

Serial meets Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood in this inventive and twisty psychological thriller about a mega-hit podcast that reopens a murder case—and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter.

The only thing more dangerous than a lie…is the truth.

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father’s murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay.

The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.

I saw this title on a book list (probably from Pinterest) and as a fan of “Serial” (Okay, more like obsessed), I knew I had to read it. And there’s definitely a taste of “Serial” in this book – it was almost too close for comfort, but the plot kept me interested, and toward the end, it was very suspenseful.

I don’t usually do this, but I took a look at the reviews on Amazon, and just at a glance, it seems people really loved this book and thought Barber creatively ripped a story from the headlines. I’d have to agree – she started with something from pop culture – “Serial” – and added a twist to it, along with a personal side.

I should also add that I’m a pretty big scaredy cat, and this one didn’t bother me at all, so don’t be deterred if you don’t like scary stories. I’m recommending this book to all the fans from “Serial”, along with crime fiction fans.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will read is “The Dinner” by Herman Koch. I’ve had this one on my list forever!

Listening: ‘Platinum’ by Miranda Lambert.

A semi-oldie but a real GOODIE.

It should come as no surprise that I’ve been going through some tough times lately, and one of the most difficult things for me has been driving in my car – I cry all the time in my car.

I realize how pathetic this sounds, and it is frustrating for me because I’ve always enjoyed taking drives – just for the sake of it – especially when my mind needs clearing. But, as I’ve mentioned, things that once worked for me aren’t really working anymore, so I’m left searching for new solutions.

Which brings me to this 2014 Miranda Lambert album. I thought that maybe if I changed the atmosphere within my Jeep – I’d do a little less crying. So, when I went on my most recent library trip, I dug through their selection of country CDs.

I knew the songs from a total bad ass such as Ms. Lambert would help me.

I didn’t grow up on country music, but I came to love it the summer I left Indiana and headed South. I have always admired the soul behind the songs, and when country went “nautical”, I love dreamin’ about the beach while listening (and sippin’ a cold beer).

I have been honored to interview many country legends (ahem, Tracy Lawrence) including Ms. Lambert, during a nationwide tour when she was married to Blake Shelton. She remains to be one of my country favorites for her ability to stay strong, and show her true roots. I love that about her!

While I hadn’t heard “Platinum” in its entirety, I’d heard hits such as “Little Red Wagon” and “Automatic”, both of which I love.

You can’t ride in my little red wagon
The front seat’s broken and the axel’s dragin’
No you can’t step to this backyard swagger

My favorite song has to be “Smokin’ and Drinkin'” featuring Little Big Town – it’s totally nostalgic and has all the fixins of a perfect country song (smokin, drinkin, love, and campfires).

But even though Lambert and Shelton didn’t announce their divorce until mid 2015 – this record makes it OBVIOUS that things were on the rocks between them. Take into consideration the lyrics of “Priscilla”?

Priscilla, Priscilla
He’s always in high demand
How do you or don’t you get the love you want when everybody wants your man?
It’s a difficult thing being Queen to the King
And I feel ya
Priscilla

It’s a fun track, but I heard that and knew it had to be written about her marriage troubles (especially since Lambert was his mistress in a previous marriage).

My other two favorite songs are “Somethin’ Bad”, which is a duet with Carrie Underwood, and “Another Sunday in the South”, a hazy song about day drinkin’ and night fishin’ (what more could you want in life?!).

Overall, this is a fun, well-rounded album. I’ve been listening to it all week (and have not been crying), and I realized I needed to listen to the other CDs I picked up: one of Little Big Town and one from Chris Stapleton.

You’ll be seeing my reviews of those, too!

BBC: ‘The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street’.

I know I usually post these things on Friday, but since I’m working from literally NO content calendar at this point – and am just blogging whenever I feel like it, I’m just going with it! I finished reading this book yesterday, so I thought I’d go ahead and talk about it 🙂

So, the latest read for Blanche’s Book Club is “The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street” by Karina Yan Glaser. I saw this book on Instagram – I follow several book lovers and I use Instagram as a way to keep up with new books coming out, along with books I want to add to my reading list. When I saw this one, the description said something along the lines of, “You’ll fall in love with this family”… I did no other research and simply added it to my reading list.

I have a bad habit of doing this, don’t I?

I placed this book on my library reserves list and picked it up on my way to the airport a week ago. I was in a hurry so I shoved it into my carry-on and didn’t look at it until I was aboard the plane and ready to read. When I opened the book, it was obvious this book was not… for adults. Ha!

Upon further inspection, the library sticker said “Junior Fiction”…which I’d never heard of. It was not so easy or too easy, and there were chapters, and as I read it, there was a semi-complex plot, and it held my interest. Since I don’t have kids, and am really never around children, I don’t really know what age group this would be best for. Here is the official description from Amazon:

One of The New York Times’  Notable Children’s Books of 2017: “In this delightful and heartwarming throwback to the big-family novels of yesteryear, a large biracial family might lose their beloved brownstone home, but win it back with an all-out charm offensive.”

The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street. It’s practically another member of the family. So when their reclusive, curmudgeonly landlord decides not to renew their lease, the five siblings have eleven days to do whatever it takes to stay in their beloved home and convince the dreaded Beiderman just how wonderful they are. And all is fair in love and war when it comes to keeping their home. 

Some of the customer reviews said it was good for middle grade readers. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it! There was a B-plot not mentioned in the above description, and it had a slightly darker tone, which made me read the last half of the book very quickly.

This is book 1 in a series – book 2 is slated to be published in September of this year, and it’s called “The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden”.

I definitely enjoyed reading this book, and if you do have children in that “middle grade” range, I’d be interested to see what they thought of it!

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Are You Sleeping” by Kathleen Barber.

BBC: ‘Career of Evil’.

Greetings from Harlingen, Texas! I flew in last night and am heading back to Austin in a few hours. I’m writing this from the airport, which smells like a giant toilet, so there’s that (no offense, Rio Grande Valley).

I have MUCH to discuss about Blanche’s Book Club’s latest read: “Career of Evil” by Robert Galbraith. So, let’s not waste any time!

“Career of Evil” is the third book in the Cormoran Strike series and it’s also the final one that’s published. Because of this, I’ve had it sitting on my shelf for the better part of a year, waiting for the perfect time to read it, because I just didn’t want to accept that this series would be over.

But, as I was reading chapter three, I got distracted and did some Googling. Turns out, J.K. Rowling (“Galbraith” is her pen name for this series) had recently announced the title for the fourth book! Although there is no publishing date, fans anticipate it will be soon. She also said she had ideas for 6 MORE books!

This news made it much easier for me to fly right through this book. I absolutely love these! My favorite thing about them is how visual the writing is – I feel like I’m put right in with the characters and can almost hear their voices.

If that doesn’t sound psychotic enough for you, I even bought myself some cranberry-orange scones and made tea while I read. There’s nothing quite like pretending you’re in London attempting to solve the case with a private detective and his secretary! Before I get in too deep, here’s the official description of the book, from Amazon:

Career of Evil is the third in the highly acclaimed series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott.
When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible–and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

With the police focusing on one of the suspects, Strike and Robin delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…

I won’t give anything away, but I will say that this one definitely had a more personal twist to it, which I enjoyed. Here we are, in book three, and I am still wondering if anything will ever happen between Robin and Strike (whom I imagine to look like Gerard Butler)?! I was more emotionally invested in this book, and it made me that much more thankful that we’ve got a fourth one on the way.

At least a year ago, BBC announced there would be a TV series based on these books but then I never heard much about it. Upon further investigation, it looks like we’ll be able to watch the series (which is based on all three books) this summer on Showtime – YES!

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Vanderbeekers of 41st Street” by Karina Yan Glaser. I’m actually about to go read some of it now…

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Watching: ‘Lady Bird’.

BFFs.

Thursday night I joined a friend to see “Lady Bird” – we were especially excited after all the hype it got at the Golden Globes last weekend and wanted to catch it before it left theatres. I’d heard a little bit about it, and saw the film’s writer and director – Greta Gerwig – on an episode of “Watch What Happens Live” a few weeks back.

Here’s the official scoop on “Lady Bird” from IMDb: “Christine ‘Lady Bird’ MacPherson is a high school senior from the ‘wrong side of the tracks.’ She longs for adventure, sophistication, and opportunity, but finds none of that in her Sacramento Catholic high school. LADY BIRD follows the title character’s senior year in high school, including her first romance, her participation in the school play, and most importantly, her applying for college.”

Overall, I enjoyed the writing in this movie – it was much more comedic than I expected (I laughed a lot), and the wit was very on-point. There were definitely relatable aspects to this film: small-town girl wanting to get out and explore, family pulling together to make things happen, teenage angst, wanting to fit in, and young love. I can see why lots of people loved this movie.

But there were two things that really bothered me about it. For starters, the movie was said to have taken place in 2002 (said by Gerwig herself and in the movie’s description), but there was very little in the movie to give us a timestamp. In fact, many of the cues we were given were incorrect. The first thing I saw was Alanis Morissette’s “Hand in My Pocket” was playing on the radio. This song came out in 1995. As a very huge Alanis fan, I know radio stations were not putting “Hand in My Pocket” in regular rotation in 1995.

The next clue was Dave Matthews Band’s “Crash” being a favorite song among Lady Bird and her friends, was also on the radio, and was also played at prom. “Crash” was released in 1996 – again, I used to fucking LOVE Dave Matthews Band, so don’t mess with 90’s pop music here, okay? A coworker said she disagreed with me because she didn’t discover Dave Matthews until college in the early 2000s. Okay, but fact is fact. The song was popular in 1996, and yes, you COULD argue that Lady Bird lived in a small town, so things were behind the times, but the audience still needs to be given context for that, because it looks incorrect and that makes me think Gerwig doesn’t know her shit. It was bothering me the entire movie.

You know what else? I got into my car after work on Friday and was flipping through radio stations and stumbled across Sirus XM’s channel, 90’s on 9… and who was on? Gerwig! She was playing all the songs that inspired her… FROM THE 90’S. Hmm!

The other issue I had with the film was that it didn’t follow a story arc. There was no real emotional pull for Lady Bird – I didn’t really care whether she got into the school of her choice or not. There were no real stakes. We were never told what her dreams were, aside from her saying she wanted to be “a writer in the woods”. You have to care about the characters or else there’s no real point; no emotional investment.

After hearing Gerwig on the radio, where she said she grew up in 2002 in Sacramento (the same as Lady Bird), I’d venture to say this was based on her life, which is partly good and partly bad. We can be inspired by what we’ve known and what we’ve lived, but sometimes we’re really bad at telling our own stories.

At the very least, it was funny, and I enjoyed a veggie pizza and a chocolate peanut butter shake while watching, so you can’t go wrong there.

Today, I’m settling in for a cozy, yet productive weekend. And, if you’re in the mood to shop, I’m having a SALE in my Etsy Shop this weekend (15% off everything + free domestic shipping), as I’m trying to clear out my 2017 inventory and make room for 2018 goodies!

The Bitter Lemon’s Winter TV Guide!

Every night is a TV night.

Last week may have been everyone’s first week back to work, but it was also a week FULL of TV show premiers, and I’m in heaven. Seriously, every single night there was a new show or a new season starting, and this is what I’m dubbing the most wonderful time of the year… So yeah, I’m OD-ing on the extra-trashy, and I don’t give a damn. If you’re with me, read on my friends.

“The Bachelor”, season 22 (ABC) – Reality Drama

Did you choke when you read “season 22”? I did. This is a terrible show, but we all keep watching. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t NOT watch when I found out the bachelor would be Arie Luyendyk Jr., 36, after his dramatic place in Emily Maynard’s season (which I rewatched during Christmas break, because obviously). The show premiered last week, but you haven’t missed much if you’re tuning in tonight – you can also watch full episodes on ABC.com. Airs Mondays at 8/7pm C. 

“My Big Fat Fabulous Life”, season 5 (TLC) – Reality Drama

Season 5 picks up right where season 4 left off: With Whitney heading on tour with the Fitness Marshall. But the preview for season 5 makes it look like a lot has changed for Whitney, including a new man, and possibly a wedding? The show premiered last week, but there’s still plenty of time to uncover this mystery! Airs Tuesdays at 8/7pm C.

“The Challenge”, season 31: Vendettas (MTV) – Reality Competition

Yes, season 31! I have never been much of a fan of “The Challenge” – I was more of a”Road Rules” person, but I watched last season, “Champs vs. Stars” and it was good enough to keep me interested. “Vendettas” brings together people that hate each other and the interesting twist is that its contestants from any reality show, including “Big Brother”, “Ex on the Beach”, and “Geordie Shore”. It’s every player for themselves, and as we all know, there will be new vendettas created as the season continues. Airs Tuesdays at 9/8pm C. 

“Catfish: The TV Show”, season 7 (MTV) – Reality Drama

Yep, “Catfish” is baaaack! People are never going to stop catfishing each other and I hope this show is always around to bust the suckers. It’s another season with Nev and Max out to discover the real person behind the computer screen, and even just one episode in, it’s obvious this season is going to have some unexpected twists. Airs Wednesdays at 10/9pm C.

“Project Runway All Stars”, season 6 (Lifetime) – Reality Competition

I’ll admit it, “All Stars” isn’t necessarily my favorite form of “Project Runway” (not a fan of the hostess and judges), but it’s still a fantastic competition and I love seeing the contestants from former seasons back in action. This season has some of the BEST competitors, including Joshua McKinley, Kelly Dempsey, and Fabio Costa. It’s “Rookies” (those who are first-timers on “All Stars”) versus “Veterans” (those who’ve competed on “All Stars”) this year and I can already see lots of drama coming. Airs Thursdays at 9/8pm C.

“Revenge Body With Khloe Kardashian”, season 2 (E!) – Reality Drama

Everyone knows Khloe is the best Kardashian, right? I absolutely loved season 1 of this show, as you get to see people transform their lives, and tbh, Khloe isn’t really on the show that much. It follows participants as they try to lose weight, get fit, and gain confidence. Most of the time, they’re going through a breakup or hard times, and the journey helps them, mentally. I love it! Airs Sundays at 10/9pm C.

“Siesta Key”, season 2 (MTV) – Reality Drama

Ugh, the little rich bastards are baaaack! I’m actually shocked that a second season was ordered here, but I’m here for it. That means more drama with Alex and his “friends” – everyone is returning from season 1, plus a new additions: Canvas, Tarik, Hannah, and Paige. Whew! Premiers Monday, January 15 at 10/9pm C. 

“Summer House”, season 2 (Bravo) – Reality Drama

I have been ready for season 2 since the second season 1 ended. I freaking LOVE this show! It feels like an insider’s look into the Hamptons, and that’s what I need. The gang from last summer is all here, but there’s a few new houseguests in the mix, and that brings a whole load of new drama. I cannot. freaking. waaaaait. Premiers Monday, January 22 at 10/9pm C.

The Winter Olympic Games, PyeongChang (NBC) – Sports

After the weekend drama in the women’s ice skating competition, we already know there’s going to be some REAL life craziness in the Olympic games. Plus, I really enjoy watching the opening ceremonies. The opening ceremony will be aired Friday, February 9 (likely at 8pm) on NBC.

“Music City”, season 1 (CMT) – Reality Drama

The chances are likely that I’m going to spend my life looking for a replacement for “The Hills”. That’s why I got sucked into “Siesta Key” and although it didn’t completely fill the void, it helped. But now, there’s another chance… and that is: “Music City”, created by Adam DiVello (same guy who created “The Hills”) and it’s premiering in March on CMT. This show looks so good! It follows a group of people looking to make it in country music in Nashville (but of course). I’m all for it. The show premiers on Thursday, March 1 at 10/9pm C. 

…If you didn’t think I was a TV junkie before, now you know! What shows are you looking forward to these next few months? My DVR has room…

BBC: ‘Let it Snow’.

After nearly two weeks off from work – I’ve officially survived the first four days back (it was not without struggle)! We’re here and I’ve got a really great book to share with you all: “Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances” by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle.

This book has been on my list for at least a year as part of my mission to read all things John Green, and ta-da! Just like that, I have.

“Let it Snow” is a compilation of three short stories (each about 100 pages or so) that are all slightly connected. The connection? A massive blizzard! Here’s the official description from Amazon.com:

A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

Now, I definitely wanted to read this book before the holidays, but such is life, and I read it this week instead. But hello, Bomb Cyclone or whatever the heck it’s called – it’s timely without even planning for it! If you’re snowed in currently, go ahead and download this little gem today, because it’s got all the Waffle House references (i.e. scattered and smothered hash browns), holiday references (the collectible Christmas village), and the nostalgia of teenage, holiday romance. It’s really quite perfect.

Of course, I really enjoyed John Green’s story, but this book also introduced me to two authors I hadn’t heard of.

Maureen Johnson has written a ton of books, including three series sets: The Shades of London Series, The Scarlett Series, and The Blue Envelope Series. She’s also written several stand-alone books such as “Girl at Sea” and “Devilish“, among many others. I am adding some of these to my library list!

Lauren Myracle has also written a good array of books, including some for middle school readers and some young adult novels. She’s written “The Infinite Moment of Us” and “Kissing Kate“, and has also authored a four-book series completely made of text messages!

The next book Blanche’s Book Club is “Career of Evil” by Robert Galbraith – sure to be a goodie if you’re reading the Cormoran Strike series!

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend – stay warm if you’re in the path of the bomb cyclone thing… I am not, but i may as well be, because I’m not planning on leaving the house. I’ve got waaayyy too much TV to catch up on and my bed is just too comfortable. See you next week!

BBC: ‘Sourdough’.

Hey there! It seems sort of pointless now to keep apologizing for not writing on a more regular basis like I have been for so long. I really can’t explain much else aside from simply saying that I feel like the last 3 months of 2017 really knocked the wind out of my sails.

Even in the last week, I recovered from the flu, and then had to take my kitty to the vet, and we’ve both been in bed watching season one of “The OC” (for the first time). But things are coming together, and I even got to work on my list of 2018 resolutions today! Look for those on the blog by Jan 1!

Anyway, let’s just get to the book! I lied and totally haven’t read the book I promised you, but I’ve got something else instead: it’s “Sourdough” by Robin Sloan. Here’s the description from Amazon:

In his much-anticipated new novel, Robin Sloan does for the world of food what he did for the world of books in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Lois Clary is a software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighborhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues. The brothers close up shop, and fast. But they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her―feed it daily, play it music, and learn to bake with it.

Lois is no baker, but she could use a roommate, even if it is a needy colony of microorganisms. Soon, not only is she eating her own homemade bread, she’s providing loaves daily to the General Dexterity cafeteria. The company chef urges her to take her product to the farmer’s market, and a whole new world opens up.

When Lois comes before the jury that decides who sells what at Bay Area markets, she encounters a close-knit club with no appetite for new members. But then, an alternative emerges: a secret market that aims to fuse food and technology. But who are these people, exactly?

Leavened by the same infectious intelligence that made Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore such a sensation, while taking on even more satisfying challenges, Sourdough marks the triumphant return of a unique and beloved young writer.

I’m all about a book that combines technology with food – and this book made me HUNGRY when I read it! I particularly just wanted to get a giant loaf of sourdough – and coincidentally some arrived in my Blue Apron box that week (a recipe for grilled cheese on sourdough) – so that’s when you know the stars have aligned.

This was truly a fun read, and I’m recommending it to my techies, my start-up lovers (and the haters, too), and foodies alike.

Next week, I promise, we’ll be reading “Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances” by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle.

I hope you all have a FUN and safe New Year’s Eve – and I’d love to hear what you’ve got planned for 2018! Cheers!

BBC: ‘Watch Me Disappear’.

Howdy! I’m currently on my couch, winding down after a weekend packed with holiday goodness. I went to some holiday markets (saw the best handmade goodies), enjoyed some sushi, sake, and yakitori (for the first time), bought and wrapped aaaallll of my gifts to donate to a nursing home (an annual tradition), and even stumbled upon the cutest brunch spot ever (where I ate aged meats and kale)!

Of course, I crammed some chores in there as well – I had to clean and get all of my laundry done in preparation for family arriving this week, and I went grocery shopping (x2) to get my fridge full for all the cooking and baking that’s about to commence!

But still, there’s a book from Blanche’s Book Club to be discussed! This week, we’re talking about “Watch Me Disappear” by Janelle Brown.

Who you want people to be makes you blind to who they really are.

It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail. Her body was never found, just a shattered cellphone and a solitary hiking boot. Her husband and teenage daughter have been coping with Billie’s death the best they can: Jonathan drinks as he works on a loving memoir about his marriage; Olive grows remote, from both her father and her friends at the all-girls school she attends.

But then Olive starts having strange visions of her mother, still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he thought he understood about his wife. Who was the woman he knew as Billie Flanagan?

Together, Olive and Jonathan embark on a quest for the truth—about Billie, but also about themselves, learning, in the process, about all the ways that love can distort what we choose to see. Janelle Brown’s insights into the dynamics of intimate relationships will make you question the stories you tell yourself about the people you love, while her nervy storytelling will keep you guessing until the very last page.

I was so, so excited to read this one – and had to wait awhile to pick it up at the library. It was a little eery at first, but it quickly becomes quite the page-turner as you’ll want to help solve the mystery of Billie’s location.

I loved it and am recommending it to my mystery and crime lovers – a very fresh take on the genre. The even MORE awesome part is that Janelle Brown has lots of other books to indulge in!

The next book we’ll be reading is “Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances” by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle.

PS. I know I’m going to be cooking and baking a ton over the weekend, so I used that as an excuse to buy only frozen dinners… excuse me while I go eat endless mac n’ cheese…

Watching: ‘Floribama Shore’.

The cast of MTV’s “Floribama Shore”.

I know I’m probably one of ten people still watching reruns of “Jersey Shore”… so, when MTV announced an answer to our prayers for new material, I was pretty excited! That answer is none other than “Floribama Shore”.

“Floribama Shore” is supposed to be similar to “Jersey Shore” in that cast members are filling up a single house in Panama City Beach, Florida, but are locals from the Floribama Coast.

Having been to Floribama a handful of times, I can testify that its known for its uncanny ability to embrace the tacky side of Americana, while also celebrating the fruits of summer and beach life in the form of denim cutoffs, cold bear at any hour, and bare feet at all times.

And so, MTV has rounded up a cast of locals to celebrate this portion of the country and likely, humiliate them and everyone they know for our complete enjoyment. Here’s how MTV describes the show:

Set in the Florida Panhandle along the beach that stretches all the way to Alabama, Floribama Shore is the story of eight young adults who come to spend the summer in the hottest beach town on the Gulf Coast, Panama City Beach, to party it up and put the real world on hold for just a little bit longer. But each is armed with incredible life experiences and standing at a crossroads, whether it’s ending a relationship, tasting independence for the first time, or trying to escape the past.This coming of age story captures the very real thrill and angst of being young and trying to figure out the future with a group of people you’ll come to call family.

So, the cast!

There’s Aimee, who might be my favorite so far. She’s from Alabama, admits to always going barefoot and never getting a pedicure, and she is NOT going to play games. She’s a spitfire and I’d imagine we’ll see a fight with her at some point this season.

There’s Candace, who, so far, is pretty quiet. She seems to be the old soul of the bunch, but I’m not counting her out of any shenanigans just yet. Next is Codi, who has been quiet so far… And then there’s Gus, who is pret-ty full of himself, and I don’t think he’s ever been rejected. This is already causing drama in the house.

Okay… Jeremiah. He’s the pretty boy, and although a few of the ladies love his looks, his attitude is not attractive. I’m not a fan of him as a person, but his douche-baggery is much-needed for a show like this.

Kirk has yet to say much, so we’ll see what happens with him. But finally, there’s Kortni and Nilsa, who are friends and both Panama City Beach locals. Kortni fires off episode one by pissing the bed, and Nilsa is a flirtacious force to be reckoned with!

So far, there’s been two episodes of the show, which airs Mondays at 10/9 central (although they aired one episode on Sunday night…).

It’s good stuff, y’all!

BBC: 2017 Holiday Reading Guide.

Cozy up with a holiday read!

Well, Thanksgiving is over and it’s officially the holiday season! I have always wanted to read a Christmas-themed book during this time of year, but have never gotten my life together in time to do so… until THIS YEAR! Over the weekend, I picked up my first holiday book (a pick from last year’s holiday reading guide), “Winter Street” by Elin Hilderbrand. I read a book of her’s earlier this year, and I absolutely loved it – plus, I found out that “Winter Street” is actually the first book in a mini-series, so if I like it, there’s three more books for my list (I put the sequel in this year’s list). So, here goes:

“The Christmas Town” by Donna VanLiere 

Lauren Gabriel spent many years of her childhood in foster homes, wishing her mother would come back for her and be the family she needs. Now twenty-years-old, she still longs for a place that she can truly call home. Her work as a cashier is unfulfilling, and at Christmas it’s unbearable with the songs and carols and chatter of Christmas that she hears throughout the day.

When Lauren ends her shift one night, she finds herself driving aimlessly in order to avoid returning to her lonely apartment. And when she witnesses a car accident she is suddenly pulled into the small town of Grandon, first as a witness but then as a volunteer for the annual fundraiser for Glory’s Place, a center for single mothers and families who need assistance. Could this town and its people be the home she has always longed for?

“The Mistletoe Inn” by Richard Paul Evans 

Signing up for a writing retreat to assuage a broken heart after one too many romantic disappointments, 32-year-old Kimberly Rossetti looks forward to meeting a favorite writer and bonds with a fellow aspirant who gives her insight into her writing while gradually revealing his dark past.

“Winter Stroll” by Elin Hilderbrand 

The Quinn family celebrates their most dramatic Christmas yet in this enchanting sequel to Elin Hilderbrand’s bestselling Winter Street. 

Christmas on Nantucket finds Winter Street Inn owner Kelley Quinn and his family busily preparing for the holiday season. Though the year has brought tragedy, the Quinns have much to celebrate: Kelley has reunited with his first wife Margaret, Kevin and Isabelle have a new baby; and Ava is finally dating a nice guy. But when Kelley’s wife Mitzi shows up on the island, along with Kevin’s devious ex-wife Norah and a dangerously irresistible old fling of Ava’s, the Inn is suddenly overrun with romantic feuds, not to mention guests. With jealousy, passion, and eggnog consumption at an all-time high, it’s going to take a whole lot more than a Christmas miracle to get the Quinns–and the Inn–through the holidays intact.

For readers of Richard Paul Evans and Greg Kincaid comes The 13th Gift, a heartwarming Christmas story about how a random act of kindness transformed one of the bleakest moments in a family’s history into a time of strength and love.

After the unexpected death of her husband, Joanne Huist Smith had no idea how she would keep herself together and be strong for her three children—especially with the holiday season approaching. But 12 days before Christmas, presents begin appearing on her doorstep with notes from their “True Friends.” As the Smiths came together to solve the mystery of who the gifts were from, they began to thaw out from their grief and come together again as a family. This true story about the power of random acts of kindness will warm the heart, a beautiful reminder of the miracles of Christmas and the gift of family during the holiday season.

“Christmas at Little Beach Street” by Jenny Colgan 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… and the perfect moment to escape to a charming English village! From the beloved author whose novels are “sheer indulgence from start to finish” (SOPHIE KINSELLA) comes a delightful holiday story — funny, heartfelt, romantic and packed with recipes — perfect for the winter months. – In the Cornish coastal village of Mount Polbearne, the Christmas season has arrived. It’s a joyous time for family, friends, and feasting, as decorations sparkle along the town’s winding streets and shop windows glow with festive displays. And in Polly’s Little Beach Street Bakery, the aroma of gingerbread cookies and other treats tempts people in from the cold. – Though Polly is busy keeping up with the demands of the season, she still makes time for her beekeeper boyfriend, Huckle. She’s especially happy to be celebrating the holiday this year with him, and can’t wait to cuddle up in front of the fireplace with a cup of eggnog on Christmas Eve. – But holiday bliss soon gives way to panic when a storm cuts the village off from the mainland. Now it will take all of the villagers to work together in order to ensure everyone has a happy holiday. – Full of heart and humor, Jenny Colgan’s latest novel is an instant Christmastime classic.

“Mr. Dickens and His Carol” by Samantha Silva

Laced with humor, rich historical detail from Charles Dickens’ life, and clever winks to his work, Samantha Silva’s Mr. Dickens and His Carol is an irresistible new take on a cherished classic.

Charles Dickens is not feeling the Christmas spirit. His newest book is an utter flop, the critics have turned against him, relatives near and far hound him for money. While his wife plans a lavish holiday party for their ever-expanding family and circle of friends, Dickens has visions of the poor house. But when his publishers try to blackmail him into writing a Christmas book to save them all from financial ruin, he refuses. And a serious bout of writer’s block sets in.

Frazzled and filled with self-doubt, Dickens seeks solace in his great palace of thinking, the city of London itself. On one of his long night walks, in a once-beloved square, he meets the mysterious Eleanor Lovejoy, who might be just the muse he needs. As Dickens’ deadlines close in, Eleanor propels him on a Scrooge-like journey that tests everything he believes about generosity, friendship, ambition, and love. The story he writes will change Christmas forever.

…Ta-da! There are SO many books out there with Christmas plots at the center. Got one that’s not listed? I’d love to hear about it (although I may not get to it until next year…). I hope your holiday reading is festive this year!

Black Friday: SALE in my Etsy Shop!

Check out the sale!

That’s right, I’ve having a 3-day sale in my Etsy shop! Today is the biggest discount at 20% off, Saturday is 15% off, and Sunday is 10% off – and all items get shipped for FREE! You can’t beat that!

Plus, I have some gorgeous, hand-painted ornaments with gold leaf detail, and the price is perfect, especially with the sale. You should definitely check them out!

It’s a one-stop shop for gifts, jewelry, ornaments, home decor, stocking stuffers, and a super-cute fox cozy for your coffee or tea mug!

Hope to see you in The Bitter Lemon Shop!

BBC: ‘Landline’.

If you’re still at work today, hang in there – Thanksgiving is riiiight around the corner! I’m traveling today, which is a relief, because I always feel like the the days leading up to traveling are so hectic and crazy and then when I finally get on that plane, I can take a nap.

But anyway, let’s get into this week’s read from Blanche’s Book Club! It’s “Landline” by Rainbow Rowell. Here is the description from Amazon.com:

As far as time machines go, a magic telephone is pretty useless.

TV writer Georgie McCool can’t actually visit the past — all she can do is call it, and hope it picks up.

And hope he picks up.

Because once Georgie realizes she has a magic phone that calls into the past, all she wants to do is make things right with her husband, Neal.

Maybe she can fix the things in their past that seem unfixable in the present. Maybe this stupid phone is giving her a chance to start over …

Does Georgie want to start over?

From Rainbow Rowell, the New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park andFangirl, comes this heart-wrenching – and hilarious – take on fate, time, television and true love.

Landline asks if two people are ever truly on the same path, or whether love just means finding someone who will keep meeting you halfway, no matter where you end up.

This book had me at “TV writer”, so I was in pretty quick. But I also really liked the concept of this plot, primarily because I think cell phones have ruined us in ways we can’t get back, and I still wish landlines and answering machines were a thing. I hate being “available” 24/7.

But anyway… this is a fun read. It feels like a true story, minus the whole “magic telephone” thing, which even that doesn’t seem so crazy (oddly enough). The book takes a rather common problem: a longtime marriage beginning to fall apart, and adds a twist: the ability to time-travel via landline.

What happens is obviously up to the characters… and fate.

I read this book pretty quickly, and I liked it so much that I’ll definitely be reading some of Rowell’s other books: “Fangirl”, “Carry On”, “Attachments”, and “Eleanor & Park” – they all seem to have that slight, fantasy twist. And let’s face facts, I think we could all use a little break from reality every now and then.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Hot One: A Memoir of Friendship, Sex, and Murder” by Carolyn Murnick.

Have a great Thanksgiving y’all! Tune in on Friday for a fun surprise 🙂