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BowenIn this edition, WWII, adventures on the Amazon (the river variety), Frankenstein wine, and more.

Adrian Liang: I’m going to immerse myself in World War II this weekend with two books that explore the British government’s hidden war efforts in two very different ways. First is Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare by Giles Milton, the creator of the Unknown History podcast. Milton investigates the creation of a secret ministry centered on sabotage, deception, and other methods for winning the war in quite ungentlemanly ways. Derring-do, colorful characters, and terrible mistakes abound. On the fiction side is Rhys Bowen’s In Farleigh Field, which involves Bletchley Park, secrets, spies, and double-crossing. When a paratrooper with a faulty parachute falls to his death upon the grounds of an English estate, it sparks confusion and then distrust. The dead soldier’s uniform matches that of the locally stationed troops but looks a bit wrong…and no one has been reported missing. Three childhood chums, now working in different roles for the government, return to their hometown to figure out what’s happening and whether it will have wide-ranging effects on the war.

Jon Foro: In between some reading for April (which I’m not supposed to talk about here, so I won’t mention The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple), I’m going to finally sit down with a book that’s been sitting unread on my shelves for a long time: River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey. You see, it’s nearly spring, the time when a man’s aging heart turns to thoughts of the outdoors and adventure, and Candace Millard’s account of the Bull Moose’s expedition to the Amazon - a journey that unexpectedly included deadly rapids, near starvation, piranhas, fusillades of poisoned arrows, man-eating catfish, and murder - should fit the bill. Let’s go!

Erin Kodicek: I've been drinking a lot of wine lately. More imbibing, in general, seems to be the trend as of late. But I'm also interested in how wine is made, especially when, these days, that could be in a lab (eek). In the fascinating (and sometimes frightening) Battle for Love and Wine: or How I Saved the World from Parkerization, Alice Feiring talks about the outsized influence that certain wine critics have on the process of making vino. If Robert Parker, say, is a fan of big, bold, jammy wines and a high rating from him means $$$ then vintners will be tempted to doctor their wares to suit his palate. This means adding genetically modified yeasts, colorants...Ovaltine...who knows! The label won't tell you. The more I read the more respect I have for the wine makers who steadfastly honor the old wine-making traditions, especially when this often means putting their livelihoods in peril. Cheers to them. 

Penny Mann: I am back on the training circuit for another half-marathon, to pass my time on the treadmill - and distract myself from the strong urge to order a pizza to pick-up on my way home - I have started listening to books that I first encountered long ago when my perspectives and experiences were… less well-rounded. Lately I have been working my way back through Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series in their chronological order. It is somewhat jarring to listen to these stories with 2017 ears and experiences. This weekend I will be wrapping up The Cardinal in the Kremlin (which interestingly references Orwell's 1984) and starting Clear and Present Danger.

Seira Wilson: Time for me to get back into the groove of easy weeknights, so this weekend I’ll be following one of the seasonal playbooks in the Food52 A New Way to Dinner cookbook. Authors Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, founders of the popular online site Food52, lay out exactly what needs to be done on the weekend--with truly realistic time estimates for each part of the prep (!)—in order to have five days of stress free meals when you need it most. I’ve found it so much more rewarding to spend a few hours on Saturday/Sunday and then head into the work week knowing dinner is going to be as fast and easy on Day 1 as Day 5…

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Comments (5)

Seira - I'm reading NWTD this wknd, too! I just read through the first coupla menus... and am seriously considering where I might start my own ramps patch. Which kinda defeats the premise, so I might just cave and use shallots. :-/

Posted by: Errin Stevens | Friday March 3, 2017 at 3:46 PM

I must say that I really enjoy your blog entries and book reviews. One day I hope to be surprised seeing one of mine there! Keep up the great work.

Posted by: William Alan Webb | Friday March 3, 2017 at 4:09 PM

I miss the old version of this blog about upcoming new books. I would add them to my wish list and get excited for what was coming. I have tons of unread books on my shelf that I'm wending my way through. I want to know what to look forward to!

Posted by: SJ | Friday March 3, 2017 at 4:14 PM

Hi SJ, duly noted! The change was in response to opposite feedback, but we aim to please and plan to mix it up. By the way, this weekend I'm also reading a collection of essays by Mary Gaitskill, typically known for her fantastic fictions. But in "Somebody with a Little Hammer," she takes on topics ranging from the "Gone Girl" phenomenon, to political adultery, to Celine Dion (I may skip that part). Available next month!

Posted by: Erin | Friday March 3, 2017 at 4:30 PM

I too miss hearing about upcoming books that haven't been released yet. I'm not really sure why this was apparently a big problem for some people. Just put them on your "to-read" list for later.

Posted by: Donna | Wednesday March 8, 2017 at 11:34 AM

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