Reading: Alexander McCall Smith, How to Pick a Peach, Tea, and Fablehaven

Love Over Scotland by Alexander McCall Smith – The third book in 44 Scotland Street series. The books originated as a periodical series, so the chapters are short and move forward quickly through the lives of the eclectic group of people featured in these books, including my favorite, the prodigious six-year-old Bertie and his controlling mother. While you can probably just jump into this book, there are some details that refer back to the previous two books.

The Five Lost Aunts of Harriet Bean by Alexander McCall Smith – I didn’t realize until recently that the extremely productive Alexander McCall Smith also wrote children’s books. This is a short chapter book following a girl named Harriet Bean who tries to track down her five aunts, whom she’s never met before.

The Perfect Hamburger and Other Delicious Stories by Alexander McCall Smith – Another children’s book comprised of three stories about food and kids.

How to Pick a Peach by Russ Parsons – I really enjoyed Parsons’ How to Read a French Fry and found an advanced reader’s copy of How to Pick a Peach available at our library. This book covers common (and some uncommon) fruits and vegetables, which are grouped together by season; Parsons talks about how each food has a certain growing and harvesting season when it tastes the best, information which has nearly been lost from common knowledge thanks to super-supermarkets that have strawberries all year round. Each chapter has information about the fruit or vegetable, including where it’s grown, how to pick a good one, the basics of how to prepare it (including “one simple recipe”), and a few recipes featuring each food. Great resource for people who are interested in getting local, seasonal foods, or anyone who enjoys food in general. 

Death of a Hussy, Death of a Glutton, Death of a Charming Man by M.C. Beaton – Still enjoying the Hamish Macbeth series of mysteries…

Liquid Jade by Beatrice Hohenegger – Better written than Vanilla, same genre of food history but covering the history of tea. I found this book fascinating to read as it talked about trade, colonialism, and the rise and fall of different types of tea. The chapters are quick reads. The last section of the book covers various tea miscellany, including “how much caffeine is in tea” and “what’s the difference between black, green, white, and red tea.”

Fablehaven and Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull – Kendra and Seth have been sent to live with their grandfather at his large estate, Fablehaven, for the summer. They find out that Fablehaven is actually a preserve for magical creatures, including fairies, golems, naiads, and more. Seth makes some bad choices which throws everyone into danger, and it’s up to Kendra to save the day. In the second book, Seth and Kendra cross paths with the nefarious Society of the Evening Star, a group that tries to overthrow these magical preserves in order to exploit the magical creatures that live within them. The book goes through twists and turns as Seth and Kendra try to figure out who they can trust and again, bear the weight of saving the world on their shoulders.

At first, I didn’t like Fablehaven at all because I hate plot lines where someone makes deliberate rule-breaking choices and gets everyone in trouble, which was essentially the first half of this book. (Side note: Similarly, I dislike movie plot lines where the comedy and suspense depend on one person who lies and then spends the rest of the movie trying to keep the lie afloat… but my one exception is “While You Were Sleeping,” which is one of my favorite movies.) I kept reading mainly because I wanted to see how everything got resolved, and by the end of the book, decided somewhat grudgingly that it wasn’t bad. I enjoyed the second book a lot better as Seth and Kendra were more of a team (and both more mature) and I think it was probably a bit better written as well. Looking forward to the third book which will hopefully be released at some point in the spring of 2008.

    With a bookmark: (Books I just started reading, or books I’ve been “reading” for ages. Most recent first.)

    • The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved by Sandor Katz
    • Sacred Attitudes by Erica Ross-Krieger
    • Body, Soul, and Baby by Tracy Gaudet
    • What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg, and Sandee Hathaway
    • The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
    • A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson

    In the library book box:

    • Real Food by Nina Planck
    • The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
    • Thursday Next in First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
    • Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet by M.C. Beaton
    • Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener by M.C. Beaton
    • Agatha Raising and the Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton
    • Harriet Bean and the League of Cheats by Alexander McCall Smith
    • The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D.
    • So That’s What They’re For! by Janet Tamero

    3 thoughts on “Reading: Alexander McCall Smith, How to Pick a Peach, Tea, and Fablehaven

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