What’s That Book? Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain

Welcome to What’s That Book, sharing book recommendations from readers and bloggers. Today’s guest reviewer is Austin Vitelli.

Title: Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

Author: Anthony Bourdain

Genre: Non-fiction

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What’s it about?  Anthony Bourdain provides a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to work in the food industry, highlighting many of the juicy details of what really goes on in a professional kitchen that’s surely to raise some eyebrows for those who have never worked in one. The thing is, he said he originally wrote the book specifically for chefs and figured no one else would find it relevant—almost like a series of inside jokes. But the book, which was first published in 2000, quickly became a New York Times bestseller, capturing the attention of millions of people around the world, whether they had experience in the food industry or not. It also catapulted Bourdain’s career as a “celebrity chef,” a term he begrudgingly adopted due to its negative perception.

The story itself surely captured such a wide audience for a reason—people naturally love gossip, and of course many people have a love for food. The book provides endless stories of people whom Bourdain worked with over the years, his countless jobs and relevant escapades in the industry, and most importantly, the truth about how many kitchens (at least at the time) functioned. Bourdain’s blunt and detailed-to-a-fault account of his experiences, including his battle with drug addiction, immediately establishes himself as a trustworthy storyteller. Other than a few people’s names, he basically holds nothing back. And mostly importantly, while “the times” in 2000 certainly were no stranger to sexist and otherwise questionable behavior in that industry, Bourdain still had the awareness to know that it was wrong, making sure not to glorify that type of behavior too much, even though he later worried that the book still somewhat normalized it.

How did you hear about it? I watched Bourdain’s CNN travel/food show Parts Unknown, which ran for 12 seasons until his death in 2018.

Closing comments: If you have any sort of curiosity about the food industry or what a professional kitchen looked like 20 years ago, I highly recommend this book. And if nothing else, Bourdain is one of the best non-fiction storytellers I’ve ever seen.Contributor: Austin Vitelli is an editor for a medical publishing company in Pennsylvania. He graduated from Lehigh University with a degree in journalism. You can learn more about him and his writing experience at austinvitelli.com.

Have you read something good?  Want to talk about it? Consider being a contributor to What’s That Book.

Email Book Club Mom at bvitelli2009@gmail.com for information.

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Books to Pen happenings

Hi Everyone,

Thought you might like to see what’s happening over at Books to Pen this week. I have two new 100-word flash fictions and last night, I posted the second episode of Luann Is Lying. Here are the links in case you’re interested:

White caps


Luann Is Lying – Episode 2

Click here if you’d like to follow Books to Pen.

Thank you for reading.

On YouTube today – about to start a new book, plus my new “library”

Hi Everyone,

I’m on YouTube today, talking about a book I’m about to start reading, and showing off my new “library” – I hope you’ll take a look!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Blog views and other obsessions – Facebook pages and the news feed feature

One of the things I’ve found frustrating about Facebook pages is that the news feed feature disappeared one day without explanation and the pages I liked through my pages wound up on my personal news feed. That feed is now a mess. I barely look at it and never interact because it’s just too complicated to switch back and forth between my personal account and my pages.

I recently got a tip (thank you A!) that if you change your pages to business pages, you can access the news feed so I jumped on Facebook to check it out. At first, after I switched them to business pages, I had trouble seeing the news feed, then I found a hack that instructed me to add /news_feed to the URL. Voila! It was back, or so I thought. When I went through my feed, I only found posts from a few pages I liked, but most of the feed looked like paid posts.

I hopped over to my Books to Pen page, did the hack and got an official welcome to the Facebook News Feed. Yay! I followed the steps that prompted me to follow pages I’d already liked and off I went, tapping Follow for each. About halfway through, I was bounced out of Facebook and had to log back in. When I got back on the Books to Pen page, I had a new button for News Feed and a pretty healthy feed, although I have no idea if all the pages I like will actually show up, since I wasn’t able to follow all of them. The same thing happened for my dad’s page.

Sometimes I get the News Feed button…

Today I went on Facebook to look at my pages’ news feeds and the buttons were gone. So I typed in the hack and got a message that the link was broken. Boo!

…and sometimes I don’t.

Well I fiddled around, jumping back and forth between my pages and using the hack and I eventually got the news feed button back for two of my three pages and I can access the third feed if I add news_feed to the URL.

I don’t know. Does Facebook even like us? And do they want us to interact with other FB folks?

Have you tried accessing the news feed for your pages? Leave a comment below.

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Audiobook review: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

The Night Swim
Megan Goldin
Narrated by Bailey Carr, January LaVoy

and Samantha Desz

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Podcaster Rachel Krall is ready to immerse herself in the next season of Guilty or Not Guilty when she arrives in the coastal town of Neapolis, North Carolina. Season 3 will cover the rape and sexual assault case against Scott Blair, a champion swimmer and son of a local prominent businessman. Scott’s accuser, Kelly Moore, has been devastated by her assault and the trial’s lead-up, but the burden of proof will be on her and District Attorney Mitch Alkins. Scott’s lawyer is the successful Dale Quinn, a local who moved away but returned to Neapolis to take on the case.

At a rest stop outside the town, Rachel notices a note on her windshield. It’s from Hannah Stills, the sister of a girl who died in Neapolis under suspicious circumstances twenty-five years earlier. Hannah begs Rachel to investigate her sister, Jenny’s death, which she says was murder. Jenny’s death went largely unnoticed while families mourned the death of two well-known teenage boys in a fiery car crash that summer.

In alternating chapters and through Rachel’s podcast, readers learn the details of both cases and will soon wonder if there’s a connection between the crimes. Hannah’s story unfolds in a series of letters to Rachel. When court is not in session, Rachel chases after leads in Jenny’s death, hoping to eventually meet Hannah, who mysteriously avoids a face-to-face.

One of the most interesting parts of the story is the town and its characters’ interconnectedness over several generations. I enjoyed figuring out, through various hints, what the dynamics were between these characters. In addition, the author does a good job covering the different angles of consent, sexual assault and rape, showing the effects of these charges on both families.

I also thought the narrators did an excellent job in telling the story and felt that the podcast element was especially good in audiobook format.

Unfortunately other parts of the book were just not as enjoyable to me. Though it might seem small, I had trouble with the town’s name which doesn’t seem to fit with the names of other American east coast towns. In addition, most of Goldin’s characters, especially Rachel, are one-dimensional. I was also annoyed with how easy it was for Rachel, who is not a police investigator, to get information about Jenny’s death. She went around town and interviewed locals and conveniently connected with people and officials who were around when Jenny died. Although I don’t really care, her portrayal of librarians as unhelpful clock-watchers is not how it is! And, despite producing a podcast, she had time to do all this. I wouldn’t describe The Night Swim as much of a thriller. It moves much slower and a great deal of the book deals with courtroom testimony.

So all-in-all, an interesting, but not very deep read, bringing attention to the important subject of sexual assault and rape.

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Who’s That Indie Author? Margaret Rodenberg

Margaret Rodenberg

Author Name: Margaret Rodenberg

Genre: Historical Fiction

Book: Finding Napoleon – it’s based partly on Napoleon Bonaparte’s own attempt to write a novel and costars his little-known last love, Albine de Montholon.

Are you a full-time author? If not, what’s your side gig? I’m an escapee from the business world who’s thrilled to be a full-time author.

Favorite author/books: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald are three perfect novels that I reread every few years. For more recent releases, I loved Stephanie Dray’s The Women of Chateau Lafayette, Louis Bayard’s Courting Mr. Lincoln, and Emily St John Mandel’s The Glass Hotel.

What experiences or people have influenced your writing the most? I lived in France as a young teen, which sparked my passion for travel, history, and language. Plus, I come from a bookish family and took it for granted that I’d write novels.

Do you keep a writing journal and if so, how do you use it? No, but during my travels, I jot down notes, collect mementos, and take a ton of photos.

Do you belong to a writers’ group? If so, describe your experience: When I was starting out, I lucked into a supportive circle of talented women writers. We met in person every three weeks for ten years. I still have a weekly check-in with one of them, and others read drafts for me. I also have a remote group of insightful writers whose monthly critiques are invaluable.

Are you up with the sun or do you burn the midnight oil? I prefer a leisurely awakening so midmorning coffee to midnight oil are best for me.

How do you get over a writing slump? I don’t have “slumps” so much as distractions. When I do get frustrated with a project, I switch to a different aspect of the work—marketing, researching, or organizing—or to a different section of the manuscript.

Do you prefer writing dialogue or descriptive passages? Oh, I love dialogue—that’s where the drama happens. Plus, I’m a theatre buff, so I like the talky stuff.

What are you working on now? A French Revolution-era dystopian novel about social justice that speaks to our time.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about writing and publishing a book? Do it! But make the writing itself—the immense intellectual gratification—your primary reward. Be realistic about the publishing industry and the financial rewards.

Do you listen to podcasts? If so, which podcasts do you find the most interesting? I listen to reruns of the day’s cable news shows, book podcasts such as write-minded, The NYT Book Review or Book Riot, and French and Spanish language lessons. Mostly, I listen to audio books.

Favorite escape: Going anywhere with my husband. We’re as happy in a Paris art museum as we are kayaking in British Columbia or hiking in our local national park.

Have you ever tried Kombucha tea? Yes, but I’m not an enthusiast.

Do you prefer a couch with pillows or no pillows? If the couch is deep, I want a pillow for support, but, please, don’t surround me with  them.

Would you rather rake leaves, shovel snow or weed? Shoveling snow on a clear, crisp day. Love the invigorating workout!

Favorite mask – disposable paper, plain fabric, colorful print or something else? I recently bought an adjustable gaiter with a slot for disposable filters (double ‘em up!) that I really like.

Biggest writing challenge since Covid-19: Initially, I had difficulty focusing, because I was anxious about the future. Now, I burrow into my writing and try to forget the outside world.

Website and social media links:
Website: margaretrodenberg.com
Facebook Author Page: @MargaretRodenberg.author
Instagram: margaretrodenberg
Twitter: @MargaretRodenberg
Email: margaret@mrodenberg.com

Are you an indie or self-published author?  Do you want to build your author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

On YouTube today – opening up some new wall tapestries

Hi Everyone – I’m over on YouTube today opening up some new wall tapestries – a bookish one and something a little tamer than the one I’ve been using. I love those things!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Luann Is Lying

Hi Everyone – I’m trying something new over at Books To Pen – a weekly serial called Luann Is Lying. Take a look if you’re interested!

Books to Pen

Welcome to Luann Is Lying, a new weekly feature on Books To Pen. Luann can’t seem to get through a day without telling some kind of lie and it’s not clear if she’s in control or on the verge of something else. I hope you enjoy seeing where her fibs and half-truths take her. Here we go!

Luann pulled off her cap and shook out her wavy brown hair, working it into a controlled chaos. “Uh, yes,” she started. “I’m meeting my husband here, but I’m a bit early. Would you mind if I waited at our table?”

The hostess at the front looked down at the book of reservations. It was prime time Saturday night and the place was packed, including the bar next to the dining room. Between the noise at the bar and in the dining room, it was a wonder anyone could carry on a…

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Book Review: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Song of Solomon
Toni Morrison

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I’ve let a few days pass since I finished Song of Solomon, to let it sink in. This is a book you can study for a long time because of its excellent construction and important message.

Song of Solomon is the story of Macon “Milkman” Dead, an African-American man on a journey to learn his family history, but more importantly, develop compassion, a sorely missing component of his character. Set in Michigan, the book begins in 1931 when troubled insurance agent Robert Smith believes he can fly and jumps off the roof of Mercy Hospital. Milkman’s mother, Ruth and her daughters witness Smith’s death and Ruth, who is pregnant with Milkman, goes into labor on the steps of the hospital. Milkman is the first black baby born at Mercy.

Milkman’s father, Macon, is a cold, opportunistic businessman and has made his fortune acquiring real estate and managing rentals to blacks in town. Ever-climbing, he rules the household and distances himself and his family from other blacks. As a result, Milkman grows up unsettled and bored, without need, ambition or empathy for others.

As a boy, Milkman meets Pilate Dead, Macon’s sister and the town’s bootlegger, who will become an important influence in his life. She lives in a shack with her daughter, Reba and granddaughter, Hagar, and seems to have supernatural powers. As children, Macon and Pilate were forced to fend for themselves. They separated and are now estranged. Although Macon forbids his son to visit the shack, Milkman is drawn to them, including Hagar. A romantic relationship with Hagar will show Milkman at his worst.

The larger backdrop of this story is the oppression of blacks, which has spanned multiple generations of the Dead family and has alienated its members and others in town. Morrison’s characters find different ways to live with racism. Some are survivors, like Pilate. Macon disassociates himself from blacks and others, like Milkman’s friend, Guitar and the Seven Days society, determine to avenge the deaths of innocent blacks. Morrison also shows how the women in Milkman’s family have been alienated by desertion and ridicule.

I don’t want to give too much away, because it’s better just to read the story, but Milkman leaves Michigan on a search for gold, believed to be hidden in Pennsylvania. His quest then takes him to his ancestral Virginia, where he learns the full history of his family, including Milkman’s great-grandfather, the legendary Solomon. Only when he fully understands his family history can he feel compassion for others.

One of the things I like best is how Morrison uses the concept of flying to connect her characters. The story begins with Robert Smith believing he can fly. Once Milkman understands his family’s history, he too can make a faithful leap.

I enjoyed Song of Solomon very much because of its symbolism, African-American folklore and magical realism. I think I need to read it again to fully appreciate this excellent story.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

New flash fiction over on Books To Pen

Hi Everyone,

Just a quick note to say I’m over on Books To Pen with a new 100 word flash fiction. This one’s called “Chicken.” Click or tap below if you’re in the mood for a quick story!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!