Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Last night I finished reading Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. I rarely read fiction set in other worlds, but all the articles about Le Guin prompted me to dip into her writing. She certainly created a fascinating (and chilly) world and narrative, although I wasn’t that into the interspersing chapters. I will read more of her work and would even read this one again one day.

Next up is a book for book club, The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. It’s nearly 600 pages so I have a lot of reading to do in the next few days.

As of earlier today, these ebooks at Amazon were on sale at $2 to $5—up to an 80% discount—but act quickly if you want a bargain. These deals may only last a day or a week, you never know. If you’re in the browsing mood, check out last week’s ebook sales too—some of those books may still be on sale.


Reminder: some of these books may only be on sale a few days so act quickly if you’re interested.

The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen ($1.99, 71% off)

“Leveen’s rich debut is a fictional retelling of the life of Mary El, the tenacious Virginian slave turned spy…Deftly integrating historical research into this gripping tale of adventure, love, and national conflict, Leveen brings Mary to life and evenhandedly reveals the humanity on both sides of America’s deadliest war.” (Publishers Weekly)

Vivaldi’s Virgins by Barbara Quick ($1.99, 77% off)

“Behind the masks of Carnevale and the musical scores of Vivaldi, 18th-century Venice comes brilliantly to life in this passionate novel. The plot takes several twists and turns that will enthrall the reader. The details of history are well researched and the imagery sensational. The prose is lyrical and mesmerizing at times…This is a complex tale that will appeal to lovers of Italian history as well as to fans of Vivaldi and his music.” (Historical Novel Society)

The Dressmaker by Beryl Bainbridge ($2.99, 70% off)

“Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize: This psychological drama set in Liverpool during WWII follows the courtship of a US soldier and an English working-class girl…a thrilling historical novel about repressed sexuality, sibling rivalry, and the dire consequences of bigotry.” (Amazon)

“The first Bainbridge I ever read—back in the mid-70s—was The Dressmaker…I went on to read every novel she had written up to that point and every book she has written since…It is so refreshing to read prose that assumes its readers are as intelligent as its writer. Bainbridge should be lauded as one of the finest writers of dialogue since the second world war.” (The Guardian)

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald ($2.51)

“A set of warmhearted but practical Midwesterners welcomes a newcomer from overseas, and no sooner than you can say “Guernsey Potato-Peel Pie,” the visitor has been clasped to the town’s capacious bosom and become a bookseller! Here’s the first clue that Swedish novelist Katarina Bivald’s debut pays homage to familiar romances, cozies and travelogues. But her story is also charmingly original.” (Washington Post)

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas ($2.99)

“Can you be a mother and also be an artist—or, by extension, pursue any serious ambition at all? This is the question taken up with urgency and all due complexity in…Wolas’ debut novel…this is a look at the life of a writer that will entertain many nonwriters…it’s a sharp-eyed portrait of the artist as spouse and householder. From the start, one wonders how Wolas is possibly going to pay off the idea that her heroine is such a genius. Verdict: few could do better.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach ($1.99)

“Moggach’s sumptuous prose creates an impression of serenity that belies the passions just beneath the surface of Amsterdam in the 1630’s, where the tulip market is reaching record highs…Moggach’s book reads like a thriller: it’s a novel that ponders what it means to push things too far, and keenly examines what the consequences might be.” (New York Times)

Mercer Girls by Libbie Hawker ($1.99)

“The riveting story of three women looking to escape their pasts and reinvent their lives by settling in Seattle in the 1860s…Asa Mercer, a businessman, traveled to Lowell, Massachusetts, a town that had faced economic collapse due to the war, with the hope of bringing back eligible women to serve as wives and pioneers of the land…The Mercer girls also play a predominant role in Seattle’s suffragist movement…an engaging and enlightening story featuring strong women who each made valuable contributions to an emerging society.” (Historical Novel Society)

bookcase 2-24-18

Food & Cooking:

Old-School Comfort Food: The Way I Learned to Cook by Alex Guarnaschelli ($1.99, 87% off)

“This cookbook has the feel of flipping through someone’s journal—albeit a journal full of recipes. The handwritten notes and homey pictures of simple food definitely contribute to this feeling, but it’s also in the very direct and honest way that Alex Guarnaschelli writes. It’s like she’s talking directly to you, hovering next to your elbow as you contemplate the whole roasted fish or head into the kitchen to make the tart.” (The Kitchn)

Her other cookbook, The Home Cook: Recipes to Know by Heart is still on sale at $2.99 (84% off).

The French Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone ($2.99)

“Well-designed, accessible, and the recipes work. If you like the convenience of slow cookers and have a penchant for a rustic-French spectrum of flavors, it’s a good choice.” (Boston Globe)

The Pleasures of Cooking for One by Judith Jones ($4.99, 44% off)

Judith Jones rescued The Diary of Anne Frank from the reject pile and brought us Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking too. My hero.

My PSA: I’ve heard too many people who live alone say they don’t cook for themselves. You, if this is you, are missing out on a great flow activity (really, you will lose yourself) and the luxurious experience of enjoying as much as you want of what you want. Save the rest in the frig or freezer for another night. Don’t rob yourself of this simple pleasure.

“A warm-hearted approach to the joys of slicing, dicing, mixing and cooking for one…Consider “Pleasures” a visit from your best friend who is also a superb, savvy cook, encouraging you to be creative and treat yourself well.” (Seattle Times)

Cook Simple: Effortless Cooking Every Day by Diana Henry ($3.99)

Henry has won “a slew of prestigious food writing awards…What distinguishes her work isn’t just the quantity of recipes she produces, but their quality and originality, particularly in the creativity of her flavor combinations.” (New York Times)

“This is everything I want from a cookbook: inspiration, intelligent company, great good-mood food, and beautiful writing.” (Nigella Lawson)

How to Cook Everything Fast: A Better Way to Cook Good Food by Mark Bittman ($2.99)

“An emphasis on food preparation, not food-porn photos…packed with recipes (approximately 2,000 of them, including variations), techniques and tips for working smarter in the kitchen…every dish here is engineered to take 45 minutes or less…[with] strategies on how to work faster and techniques on how to prep fruits and vegetables efficiently.” (Washington Post)

The Chinese Takeout Cookbook: Quick and Easy Dishes to Prepare at Home by Diane Kuan ($1.99)

“Recipes for just about anything you’d order for delivery: There’s pork fried rice, of course, and also things like Peking duck (yes, Peking duck), egg foo young, and crab Rangoon. Most of the recipes are fast (besides the duck) and all are fairly easy. None contain food dyes or MSG.” (Serious Eats)

Dinner: The Playbook: A 30-Day Plan for Mastering the Art of the Family Meal by Jenni Rosenstrach ($1.99)

“A guide to family meals written by a mom who knows what it’s like when your dinner rotation devolves into pizza, pizza, burgers…Rosenstrach provides a 30-day battle plan for making dinner more interesting, fun, and workable for the whole family…advice for shopping, meal planning and working together, along with enjoyable recipes. She doesn’t promise miracles, but even casual readers will gain a boost of inspiration and a handful of new, keeper meals.” (Seattle Times)

ebook sales and recommended books


These books were on sale as of Saturday morning, but may not be on sale for long—act quickly.

American Jezebel: The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson, the Woman Who Defied the Puritans by Eve LaPlante ($1.99)

“[This] biography heralds Anne Hutchinson, the proto-feminist pioneer who defied the theocracy of 17th century Massachusetts and paved the way for religious freedom in America.” (Salon)

Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman ($1.99)

Georgiana, winner of Britain’s 1998 Whitbread Prize for biography, seamlessly merges a life and its times, capturing not just an individual but an age, a world entire. The duchess was a woman peculiarly made for her time. She was a celebrity just when the newly flowering British press needed an icon to tease and adore. She was a canny political operative just when the fractious Whigs needed one. And during what Foreman calls ‘one of the most sexually integrated periods of British history,’ when ‘male and female relations were robust, multi-layered and contradictory,’ Georgiana was equally at home in the masculine and feminine spheres.” (New York Times)

Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozed Dumas ($1.99)

“This lighthearted memoir chronicles the author’s move from Iran to America in 1971 at age seven, the antics of her extended family and her eventual marriage to a Frenchman. The best parts will make readers laugh out loud…a warm, witty and sometimes poignant look at cross-cultural misunderstanding and family life.” (Publishers Weekly)

Revolution Song: A Story of American Freedom by Russell Shorto ($2.99, 78% off)

“Aiming to reveal the reality of life in the Colonies and Britain before and during the Revolution, Shorto…focuses on six different people: George Washington; British aristocrat and statesman George Germain, Lord Sackville; Venture Smith, an African-born slave; Abraham Yates, a shoemaker who rose to become mayor of his native Albany, New York; Cornplanter, a Seneca warrior; and Margaret Coghlan, the American-born daughter of a British officer…a fresh and often fascinating perspective on 18th-century life. Drawing on memoirs, letters, archival material, and much historical writing, he fashions a brisk chronological narrative that jumps from one individual to another.” (Kirkus Reviews)

The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America by Douglas Brinkley ($2.99)

“How a city-born child of privilege became one of the greatest forces in American conservation is the subject of Douglas Brinkley’s vast, inspiring and enormously entertaining book…The subtitle is telling—the crusade for America, not “wild America”—because for Roosevelt, living forests and petrified forests, bird preserves and buffalo ranges were essential for the country’s survival as a moral and military power…this book has Rooseveltian energy. It is largehearted, full of the vitality of its subject and a palpable love for the landscapes it describes. As in Roosevelt’s own life, personality trumps all.” (New York Times)

On sale today only: The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss ($1.99)

Winner of 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Biography.

“In the 1790s, the son of an aristocratic white father and a black slave woman became a charismatic French general who for a time rivaled Napoleon himself, and afterward languished in an Italian dungeon. His story inspired the novel The Count of Monte Cristo, written by his son, Alexandre Dumas, who also drew upon his father’s adventures in The Three Musketeers…Tom ­Reiss…has recovered this fascinating story with a richly imaginative biography.” (New York Times)

The Brontës: Wild Genius on the Moors: The Story of a Literary Family by Juliet Barker ($3.99)

“This group portrait shows the family as flawed and human rather than as the freakish clan of isolated geniuses portrayed in many biographies. The author expresses astonishment that a vast trove of archival material has never been used by other scholars.” (Los Angeles Times)

Creative Commons licensed photo by Sebas Ribas (New York Public Library’s Rose Reading Room) on Unsplash.

Amazon book links are affiliate links which allow me to earn a small commission on any sales that result from clicking. Thank you!

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