Burned and Books that Cook: The Making Of A Literary Meal

Here’s a quick rundown of where I’ve been reading wise!

Burned by Karen Marie Moning

Ugh. Avoid. I’d read the first five books in the Fever series feverishly (clever! not.) And had thought that that would be the last I would see of Mac and Barrons and the sidhe-seers and the uglies (I mean the Unseelies of course) and the pretties (also known as the Seelies).

Turns out I was wrong. Miss Moning released a sixth book in 2012. Only it wasn’t really a sixth book. It was purported to be the first book in a trilogy set in the same world but following the travails and triumphs of Dani Mega O’Malley, a precious 14 year old who was one of the major characters in the series.

Fair enough.

I like Dani’s voice and enjoy the first book in the trilogy.

Only it wasn’t the first in a trilogy. No siree. Miss Moning backtracks and pronounces that Iced was actually the sixth in the series and a continuation of the first five. Ugh, what? I was left feeling slightly distrustful but mostly confident in KMM’s ability to tell a good story.

Or not.

Because the seventh in the series (!!) which was released this past January on the 20th of the month was a Disaster (yes, with a capital D).

Where do I begin?

First there’s the whining. Yes, Mac, the girl who’s become a woman through the first five books whines. Now, I don’t think that being a woman means that you’re done with insecurities forever but dear god, Mac’s moanings (see how clever I am being today?) makes her downright unbearable and BORING. Yes, dear reader so bored was I that I skipped large swathes of the book (majority of which were Mac’s inner chatterings) and finished the behemoth of the book (it was 500 pages plus) within four hours.

Then there’s Barrons and his nine whatever they are. I’ve already documented my love for Alpha Heroes but this was just Too Much Testosterone! And not necessarily in a way that appeals. The problem with getting into the details of Barrons and his entourage is that all of them come across as carbon copies of each other. I would rather have some mystery associated with them than have them become boring in their details.

The biggest infraction, however, is the short shrift that Dani’s character is given. The only way KMM can redeem herself is if in the next book she can explain why Dani’s character was developed the way it was.

There’s just too much going on and not in a way that adds up to any coherent whole. Maybe KMM’s setting it up for the next two books but that’s no excuse for such sloppy storytelling! The world that’s been created in the series is compelling and is what might persuade me to read the next installment. We’ll see.

Books that Cook: The Making of a Literary Meal
Edited by Jennifer Cognard-Black, Melissa Goldthwaite, Marion Nestle

So I love food. And it has dawned on me that perhaps there is literature to be explored that celebrates food and explores food and discusses food.

Books that Cook was one of my first forays into this territory. Unfortunately because of its structure (it’s a collection of pieces, excerpted both from fiction and non-fiction, that focuses on food) I never got around to reading it in one sitting and was half-way through before I realized that I most likely would not finish it anytime soon and returned it to the library.

The bits that I did read I enjoyed quite a lot.

There’s what I call the talkative recipes from the 18th and the 19th centuries. No, the recipes themselves don’t become little monsters and start whispering in your ear while you’re stirring the ladle in what constitutes for the modern cauldron. It’s the way the recipes are written—preceded by exhortations to be an economical housewife and the admonition to learn the practical art of cooking which would mean a steady source of income at the very least that I found quite entertaining.

Then there was a piece about mushrooms which was quite lovely. It was a piece of non-fiction in which the author alternates between the mushrooms and his own doomed relationships. As he narrates his love for the edible fungus, alternating it with his account of a phobia of commitment and his discovery that he prefers the company of men to women, following his father’s death, the reader cannot help but feel the solace that the author derives from the image of life blooming into fullness amidst rot and waste. I loved how the writing was imbued with this sense of confluence, of the feeling that surely there would be a point of convergence between his two loves.

It’s a book that I’ll most likely be checking out again.