Thursday, July 16, 2009

Number 21 of the year may prove to be the last for a little bit as on July 6, our little girl was born, so I find I have time for not much other than staying awake most of the night, feeding a hungry new born. Which is just fine :) Anyway, number 21 is The Book of Mordred by Vivian Vende Velde. This book is aimed at teen readers, so I wasn't expecting too much from it, and it did prove a little frustrating to me. Basically, it centers around Mordred, and three women in his life, the young, magically adept Kiera, her mother, Alayna, and the sorceress Nimue. Now, the story is told from their point of views (kinda a Mists of Avalon-lite) and starts after Kiera is kidnapped, basically because she is magically gifted. Alayna journeys to Camelot for help, and it is Mordred who helps her, and goes with her to a known-wizard's castle.

The plot is ok, but the thing I had the hardest time with was basically the overall point of the book I guess. The author quotes, at the beginning, an excerpt from a letter written by Sir Thomas Mallory, where he basically says that Mordred is the bad guy in the Arthurian Legends, and beyond that, he doesn't need much depth or explanation. So I gathered that we were going to get a better look at Mordred and his motivations through his relationship with these three women. Except I didn't really get any of that. If anything, the three women found him to be just as much an enigma as everyone else does in every other tale. I was a little disappointed nothing was really different. Even at the end, when Mordred was attempting to usurp Arthur's throne (or rather in this case Arthur had agreed to divvy up his kingdom between the two of them in order to keep the peace), there didn't seem to be much motivation for it other than that's what Mordred does, he is a divisive force. Also, why did he take part in the plot to trap Lancelot and Guinevere? I never felt there was much reason given other than he wanted Arthur to be shamed, which is a pretty run of the mill reason as far as the tales go.

So yes, while the characters were all fine and dandy, but I just felt this book kinda missed it's own raison d'etre.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Number 20 is Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. My husband is on a bit of a biography/industry tell-all kick right now, having read Toby Young's two offerings. After seeing Bourdain's show, No Reservations and enjoying it the couple of times we've caught it, I questioned who Bourdain was, so after a googling, we found out he was indeed a chef, and had penned a tell all book about the restaraunt business. So, off to the library to get it.

It's an interesting book, but not really a 'warts and all, look how ugly this business is' book. Or maybe it's just because I expected the book to go like it is. Or there are too many chef shows on tv these days with the chefs yelling and humilating all the underlings, so I kinda knew already what Bourdain's main idea is, that you have to actually love food and be willing to sacrifice pretty much everything else in your life if you become a lifer in a restaraunt, especially a high-end chef.

The book is entertaining, and Bourdain himself, while he admits to being a very big asshat at times in his life, and having numerous substance abuse problems, does sort of gloss over this (which is fine actually) to tell about influential people and moments during his long career. It is obvious that there are a lot of 'characters' in the food industry, some good and some bad. Bourdain also gives a lot of helpful hints about what you should and shouldn't do (mainly, opening up a restaraunt is don't do number one, but people are always doing so anyway).

I'm definitely not a foodie, a lot of times I eat strictly because I have to. While there are some foods I do love, I'm not an adventerous eater, but I still found this book interesting.