Welcome 2014!

Untitled drawingA brand new year!  I won’t pretend that I’ll miss 2013… years ending in the number 3 are never among my best.  But now is the time to take stock of the last 12 months of reading and set some goals for the upcoming year.

How many books did I read?  A sad, sad 47 books.  Not even halfway to my goal (Damn you GoodReads!  Your badge of reading achievement eludes me once again!!!)

How many of those were translations? 32 books in 13 different languages:  French, German, Norwegian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Swedish, Turkish, Spanish, Catalan & Finnish.

Favorite book of 2013? I can’t bring myself to narrow it down to just one.  My top 3 books would be (in no particular order):  The Mehlis Report by Rabee Jaber, Revenge by Yoko Ogawa, In the Time of the Blue Ball by Manuela Draeger and 18% Gray by Zachary Karabashliev.  O.K., that’s four.  18% Gray snuck its way onto the list by way of my subconscious.  It made such a strong impression on me that it just felt wrong to leave it out.

2013 Highlights? What were the blogging highlights of 2013 for me?  All the extracurricular activities I was able to take part in this year:  hosting some of my favorite bloggers in The Rise of the Short Story at the beginning of the year;  being invited on the Mookse and the Gripes podcast not just once, but twice (some people are just glutton for punishment); contributing reviews to Necessary Fiction and Literary Kicks;  being asked by Kim at Reading Matters to take part in her Advent Calendar; finding the wonderful translator Jordan Stump through Twitter and him graciously agreeing to an interview.

There’s also been an exciting number of innovative  independent publishers who’ve released strong and important books in translation over the past year.  These indies aren’t just thinking outside of the box to publish great books, they’ve grabbed the scissors, paint, hot glue gun and turned that box into something new and refreshing. & Other StoriesReadux Books and Frisch & Co. have exciting publishing models. Readux focuses on short fiction for the digital age; & Other Stories have an AMAZING list of authors and a subscription program that makes you feel like a member of an elite club; and Frisch & Co. is tapping into the opportunities of e-books.

And last, but definitely not least, the highlight of 2013 was all the wonderful readers – old and new – of BookSexy Review.  Thank you for your comments, shares, likes and sticking with this little blog even when the post schedule got a little *ahem* erratic.

2014 Resolutions? This year my goals are more modest than last. I’ll only attempt to read & review 52 translations.  26 of which, as I wrote in my last post, will be by female authors.  I’ve also developed a large backlog on my TBR pile.  So, in 2014 I’m going to work to make a dent in that.  While I love reading new releases, there are authors like Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, more of the works of Juan José Saer, Péter Nádas and every Inspector Montalbano mystery ever written.

Happy 2014 dear readers!  Have you made any reading resolutions for the new year?  Share in the comments below!

It’s Official! Fall is here – Canal House Cooking Volume No. 2

CHC vol 2 cover hi rez

It has been months… and the tomatoes are all gone.  Thank goodness the ladies over at Canal House have released the newest volume of their Canal House Cookbook No. 2:  Fall & Holiday (all decked out in gold).  Volume No. 2 is the perfect holiday gift, but don’t wait until Christmas to begin giving out copies.  These dishes look delicious and we recommend sharing them with family and friends in the upcoming weeks.

We loved the simplicity of the ingredients and the easy preparation we found in the Summer volume’s recipes.  Volume No. 2, though, is an entirely different animal.  Fall & Holiday are for entertaining in a big way – and Hamilton & Hirsheimer provide everything you need to know to host an unforgettable Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year’s celebration.  The dishes are bit more complicated and labor intensive than those in the previous volume… we spotted several French recipes – coq au vin (made with rooster), etc.- which might intimidate the casual cook.  But the authors do a wonderful job of holding the reader’s hand and walking him/her through the steps gently.   They’ve also included familiar favorites like sweet potato pie, turkey and homemade cranberry sauce.  All the traditional staples of the season are represented – and a generous assortment of baked goods and mixed drink recipes that your guests will  appreciate.

Normally, we’re not big cookbook fans.  So we’re not sure what it is about the Canal House Cookbooks that’s grabbed us.  It could be the beautiful photographs and illustrations, the yummy recipes or the warm and friendly way they are written.  It could be how this particular volume has somehow captured that sense of coziness associated with cooking at home – don’t ask us how.  Or the way the recipes feel so traditional, yet modern at the same time – again, don’t ask us how.  Whatever it is, we recommend you experience it for yourselves.  Here’s a link to Canal House Cooking Vol. No. 2 – Fall & Holiday. The authors have provided some sample recipes from the book, including Roast Duck & Potatoes and a Chocolate Gingerbread.  Mmmmm…. sounds like Sunday dinner.