Monthly Archives: June 2016

RED ROCKS AMPHITHEATER

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Here’s an amazing place located West of the Mississippi, a part of our country neglected this past year on readeatlive/blog.

So…admittedly, I stole this picture from my son Jon. He gets around. This shot shows this world famous natural amphitheater in the Colorado Mountains filled with people assembled to hear Wide-Spread Panic perform. But the place is even more beautiful (depends on your perspective) when empty.

Enjoy expanding your views of our great country.

Thanks to the internet site for the empty or almost empty view of Red Rock.

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PALETTE BISTRO: ENJOY THE FOOD AND THE VIEWS

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Palette Bistro is a restaurant in downtown Petoskey at 321 Bay Street with great views and inviting food.

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When you enter the restaurant, everywhere you look, upstairs or downstairs seems a great place to sit and enjoy your meal.

The views of Little Traverse Bay are stunning, but views inside the restaurant and on the street side balcony are equally inviting.

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Palette offers great Happy Hour prices on drinks and food. Don’t miss the Cava if available by the glass, as it was on the evening we enjoyed our dinner here.

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And they feature small plates as well as large. There’s also flavorful, beautiful pizza. I loved the thin crust. Much of the food is locally sourced. The pizza is baked in this oven on the first floor.

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Our party took advantage of the small plates offered at Happy Hour.

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Spanikopita Streudel with spinach and feta,

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Caprese Salad

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Asparagus Salad

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Classic Caesar Salad.

All were delicious.
We also had Margherita Pizza for the table. The thin crust was nicely crispy and the topping with tomato sauce, basil, romano, mozzarella and fustini’s olive oil was close to perfection.

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Oven fired Crab Cakes won the vote as best dish of the evening. (Sorry no picture, oh, but they were beautiful.)

We also sampled Mussels and the delicious bread served to the table.

Eating with such good friends made this meal memorable. More important than the food is always the company. I know I remember this dinning experience as the best because of the friends. They are the very best!!

A feast for a very reasonable price, what more could a diner expect? I’ll be back. What about you?! If you aren’t expecting to travel to Petoskey, enjoy the pictures and think about the next restaurant you will visit that offers small plates with generous servings of delicious and satisfying food, and is a place where you like to dine with your friends.

E-mail me the name of your favorite place, a few pictures and a line or two and I’ll be happy to post recommended restaurants from around the country.

Check out the Palette Bistro website. palettebistropetoskey.com

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EVERY FAMILY NEEDS A LAROSE

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LaRose
Author: Louise Erdrich
Genre: Novel
Publisher: Harper Collins, 2016
Hardcover Edition: 372 pages
Source: Personal Copy

Would that we could all be saved by a LaRose! Erdrich tells stories like no other author. Her stories explore, families, children, parenting, justice, love, resentment, grief––the dark and light of living. She holds extraordinary ability as a writer. Readers have come to expect beautiful prose, sentences of amazing ease and structure. Here, the way she brings her characters to life––their talk, their fears, their ways of being–– is truly and marvelously compelling.

LaRose is quite possible Erdrich’s most readable novel. Her characters strive, strive to be what they see as their best selves. They inspire each other. The most inspiring is the title character, the young boy, LaRose. He is the namesake of generations of his ancestors.

The contemporary story deals with two families. When the five-year-old son of the Ravich family is accidentally killed by Pete Ravich’s good friend Landreaux, Landreaux and his wife Emmaline decide to give their son LaRose to Pete and Nola Ravitch. LaRose is the same age as Dusty, the boy who was killed. The families are locked in struggle, grief and friendship.

Stories from the past take readers to Boarding Schools for American Indian children and further back to fur-trading days. Erdrich is known for her portrayal of different aspects of life for Native Americans in North Dakota. Readers are filled with both the complexity of history and also the tangles of contemporary life lived at the edge of a powerful spirit world as well as the hardships of real world existence. The children of both families are finely drawn, fiercely protective of each other. They navigate bullying, sexual attack, volleyball, family chores and nail polish fashions, all while supporting and saving each other. The precipices and rocky shores of grief lend danger to every experience.

It is wrenching to leave the characters behind when the story finishes. Erdrich often brings some of her characters back for more stories. Readers will hope she does it again with these characters. One of the true joys of this read is the children: growing, learning, loving. Few authors write about children of all ages with such skill. Erdrich is astute and loving toward the children of the story, and indeed, toward all of her characters. The true joy of this reading experience mitigates the grief that lives in every sentence and every event. This is another best book of 2016!

ARE YOU READY TO READ SCIENCE ? SEVEN POSSIBILITIES

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The Wright Brothers by David McCullough.
All about those Ohio bicycle mechanics who changed history with their airplanes. Now out in paperback.

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Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? By Frans de Waal.
Read about the intelligence of various animals.

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.
Her cells were taken without her knowledge. They became vital to many of the medical discoveries of the 20th century. Therein lies a tale of ethics, race, and medicine that has been described by many as riveting.

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Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
The author is winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. His book is all about choices. Can we trust out intuitions? This book has won more awards than I can type.

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The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman.
The complex intelligence of birds.

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Quiet by Susan Cain
Let’s hear it for the introverts.

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Being a Beast: Adventures Across the Species Divide by Charles Foster
He describes living alongside badgers in a hill in Wales and other exotic, crazy adventures. He acts like an animal. According to one reviewer “this is not your typical nature book.”

Comments always appreciated. Which one will you read?

“BLOOD IN THE CLOUDS” SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE, JUNE 2016

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This article transports readers to a most treacherous battle of World War I fought 100 years ago. (Another connection to Noonday and Peaky Blinders. See post from June 10 and current topic on the Reading Page.) Austrian and Italian soldiers climbed the mountains of northern Italy in snow and extreme cold. High mountains had never before been a battlefield.

In spring 1915, the Italians abandoned their alliance with Austria-Hungary and Germany to join the United Kingdom, France and Russia. In subzero temperatures small units dug miles of tunnels through glacial ice. They hauled heavy artillery and other instruments of war up the mountain. This is one of the least-known battlefields of that war.

Reading of these war events stabs at the soul. Such hardship. One misstep can be easily fatal, but….so is war for so many. The whole operation is rightly described as daring and difficult. The article by Brian Mockenhaupt with photos by Stefen Chow is a mesmerizing read.

The beauty and horror in this place, the geology, geography and archaeology are more exciting than any futuristic scenario. See more photographs of alpine battlefields at Smithsonian.com/dolomites. Through cracks in the rocks Italian tunnelers could smell the cooking of the Austrians. These alpine battles may have been of lesser importance in the grand horrors of the war but the causalities were real as was the suspenseful adventure scaling and digging among the cold rocky peaks. It must have been difficult just to catch one’s breath!

See more at Smithsonian.com

LET’S EAT: NEW COOKBOOKS TO EXPLORE

Take a look at these and see what you think.
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The Love and Lemons Cookbook by Jeanine Donofrio
These recipes make it easy to go from the Farmers’ Market to your table. The book will also help you stock you pantry with the new basics, that is if you are interested. Check out the author’s food blog www.loveandlemons to see if these are the kind of recipes that appeal to you. Hey, I just love the title.

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Sara Moulton’s Home Cooking 101 by Sara Moulton
This is a chef we home cooks could listen to all day. What does she have in store for us this time?
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Home Cooked: Essential Recipes For a New Way to Cook by Anya Fernal
Easy week-night meals from a sustainable food expert. Yes, I want to learn how to make good aioli!

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Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors and Forgotten Recipes From an Ancient City by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill.
History, context, recipes and comfort direct from Rome. All this is delivered with imagination and substance. Way beyond flower blossoms and artichokes. Perhaps the most intriguing title on the list?!

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Lighten Up, Y’all: Classic Southern Recipes Made Healthy and Wholesome by Virginia Willis
A James Beard Award Winning cookbook by an author named one of seven food writers you need to know by the Chicago Tribune. Here she provides southern favorites made with fresh local ingredients: shrimp, catfish, grits, stew, biscuits, pork and lots of veggies straight from the garden or fresh market. This might be the one I’m likely to spend my money on.

If you have feedback on any of these, do comment. We want to know more.

NOONDAY – BOOK COMMENT

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Noonday: A Novel
Author: Pat Barker
Publisher: Doubleday (2015)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Hardcover Edition: 307 pages
Source: Library Copy

Noonday cannot be called a comfortable read. Barker’s subjects are war, trauma, family conflict. This time she takes the reader right into the center of the horror of the London Blitz of near-nightly bombings during World War II. She vividly recreates the sights, sounds, smells of that time and place. More, she makes it possible for the reader to feel sensations in the pit of the stomach, the scratchiness in the ears and eyes, the unsteadiness of gait that people living then must have felt.

Noonday is the final book of the Life Class Trilogy. The three young London art students, Elinor Brooke, Kit Neville, and Paul Tarrant, the center of the first of the novels Life Class and all scarred in different ways by World War I, are now middle-aged painters in London dealing with the nightly bombings and blackouts. One is an air-raid warden; two are ambulance drivers. Until reading this book, I had never understood the bitterness English people and English fictional characters often hold toward Americans. It’s much easier to understand such feelings when that time of England standing alone in the night beneath constant bombing by the Germans is examined under such a brilliant light.

The plot is bolstered by an evacuee child named Kenny and cluttered with a spirit medium named Bertha Mason. The three main characters work their way through jealous competition, love and loss, hoping to find their way to some degree of hope and comfort.

There’s enough horror and hurt for twice the number of characters. These three are haunted by their personal histories. (It would no doubt be a more satisfying reading experience to read the three novels in close succession, since past informs present.) All three face difficult forces and worry over their choices. What will be the resolution as they spend their nights under the bombs? The strong characters Barker creates drive the reader to turn the pages of the story. She makes her readers care deeply what happens to these rather ordinary and boring people.

Titles of the two preceding books in the trilogy are Life Class (2007) and Toby’s Room (2012). British novelist Pat Barker is a winner of the Booker Prize. Many readers know her for her acclaimed Regeneration Trilogy published in the 1990’s. If you are a reader of historical fiction and you like wartime drama with a heavy dose of reality, I highly recommend her work.

SEVEN SUGGESTIONS FOR SUMMER READS

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Time to choose some of your summer reads. Here’s a quick glimpse of some newer releases.

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June: A Novel by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
From Christina Baker Kline’s blurb in the Crown ad: “June is filled with enough intrigue, betrayal, passion, and heartbreak to keep you reading all the way to the explosively satisfying end.”
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All Summer Long: A Novel by Dorothea Benton Frank
Kathryn Stockett says: “Get ready to laugh and cry.”

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The Sport of Kings: A Novel by C. E. Morgan
As a horseracing fan, this one is on my summer list for sure. A visit to Amazon to check it out shows the critics are raving about how good it is.

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Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
This novel is by the producer/writer/showrunner of the television show Fargo. It begins on a foggy summer night in a luxurious private jet. Reviewed by Kristin Hannah for the New York Times she tells us: “Noah Hawley really knows how to keep a reader turning the pages, but there’s more to the novel than suspense.”

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A Hero of France by Alan Furst
Mystery readers if you don’t know Alan Furst’s work now is the time to give it a try: mystery, history, risk-taking.
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32 Yolks: From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line by Eric Ripert
This book is another chef memoir telling of his early days growing up in France and working for Chef Joel Robuchon who also terrorized Gordon Ramsay. My reading of Lisa Abend’s review boils down to a good read that seems to end before it is finished.
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Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
This novel, published by Knopf in May, tells a coming-of-age story set in the Manhattan restaurant world. A check of Amazon tells me the critics are praising this first novel by Ms. Danler.

CONGRATULATIONS TO FICTION BOOK WINNERS

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Thanks so much to these readers who commented to win one of the five free fiction books given away this month.

Winners are:
Judith Vitali – Connecticut
Susan Carter – California
Kimberly Kozian – Michigan
Nancy Skadden – Florida
Patty Hunt – New York

Many of the winners commented on what they have been reading. Check out their replies for some titles that are very likely to interest you.