Gluten Is My Bitch: Rants, Recipes, and Ridiculousness for the Gluten-Free (Audiobook) by April Peveteaux: Laughing through the Pain of Gluten Deprivation

Gluten Is My Bitch

Gluten Is My Bitch: Rants, Recipes, and Ridiculousness for the Gluten-Free

by April Peveteaux

Unabridged Audiobook, 3 hrs., 44 min.
Tantor Media, 2017

Read: September 6-9, 2019

Here’s the thing about going gluten-free, whether you’ve been given a celiac disease diagnosis or just know you feel better when you’re not enjoying cinnamon rolls for breakfast, flatbread pizza for lunch, and a pile of spaghetti Bolognese for dinner: It’s f******g hard. I won’t sugarcoat that for you . . . Smiling through the pain of watching your friends enjoy unlimited breadsticks while your plate sits empty does not change the intensity of our shared gluten-free torment. Let’s own that pain and complain about it until we’re asked to leave the party. It’s not all about wallowing in self-pity, though plenty of that is certainly in order. You are giving up chocolate croissants, after all.

This was a fun, fun, book that I’m glad I gave a shot to. I stumbled onto it while browsing my library’s audiobook collection. I don’t have Celiac disease or gluten intolerance or anything beyond a strong tendency to over-indulge, but I do have a child who was recently diagnosed with Celiac disease—and she has not enjoyed the last 10 months at all because of it. I thought I’d try the book to see if I could find any tips for her.

What I found was a laugh-out-loud (multiple times) funny book about the trials and tribulations—plus the occasional triumph—of having Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, or in her words:

a little guidance, maybe some crazy delicious recipes, and a whole lot of poop jokes.

We haven’t had the chance to use the supplement, “Recipes for the Downtrodden (AKA The Gluten Free)” but they look good. But I can say she takes care of the other two goals just fine.

Starting with talking about her own diagnosis, and some signs that others might look out for, as a way of establishing that she’s coming at this from someone who needs to be gluten-free and understands the plight of her readers, Peveteaux then moves on into the life of the gluten-free eater. She covers a lot of the changes that people have to make—including ones that are not obvious—the struggles to eat at a restaurant or a friend’s/relative’s house, where gluten can hide (on ingredient lists as well as the kitchen), how to raise a gluten-free kid (whether or not the parent is), travel tips (largely based on her own trip to Paris, I can’t imagine trying that), and a look at some of the treatments that are being worked on by medical researchers (and some loons). She closes with some thoughts on gluten-free resources/foods/sources, to help the reader out.

One of the chapters I enjoyed the most was where she discussed the overlap between the gluten-free crowd and Vegan, Crossfit and Paleo eaters (if the book was written now, she’d also include Keto, I think). She manages to poke fun at the groups as well as embrace them as allies and co-belligerents in the restrictive eating trenches. The other thing I appreciated was the encouragement to advocate to yourself without being obnoxious (or realize you’re coming across as obnoxious and at least be aware of it to diminish its impact) in various spheres of life—when it comes to something as vital as the food you put in your mouth, and the ubiquity of gluten, you’ve got to.

Peveteaux is serious about the disease/intolerance, but not about anything else. She makes fun of herself, her inclinations and suffering—helping her readers to do the same for their struggles. The book is a great mix of advice and laughs, guidance and goofiness.

It’s read by the author, and she does a great job with it (as is so often the case). She comes across as the friendly guide to the life sentence that is a gluten-free life from someone walking the same path, so she knows where the potholes are as well as where the best views can be found.

Yeah, it’s a bit dated—thankfully, there are more options in the market now than there were at publication (conversely, there’s a lot more hidden gluten sources, too)—and once or twice it steps over the tasteful line (and does the cha-cha down it most of the time), which makes it hard for Dad to hand to his daughter (who probably hears worse multiple times before her first class starts, but is wise enough not to tell her Old Man). But, I am going to buy a copy of this and put it in her hand. I think she’ll like the approach to the subject, the voice, and tips, but most of all just knowing that she’s not alone in her suffering—but seeing that you can laugh at it, too. I know I did.


3.5 Stars

2019 Library Love ChallengeHumor Reading Challenge 2019

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Sea This and Sea That by Jeremy Billups: Plenty of Goodness for the Picture Book Reader to Sea

Sea This and Sea That

Sea This and Sea That

by Jeremy Billups

Hardcover, 44 pg.
2017

Read: September 12, 2019


Off the top of my head, there are essentially three types of Picture Books:

  1. ABCs/123s
  2. Stories told simply (usually with pictures helping the text tell that story)
  3. Odd little collections of interesting/goofy pictures with some text to tie them together.

Myself, I prefer the stories—I’m always on the side of a narrative. But from my observation of my kids, niece, and other children, the third seems to be the most popular. They don’t need a grown-up around to “read” the book on their own, they can just pick it up and flip through the pictures, and the text (usually rhyming) sounds entertaining enough, even if they don’t really get what’s being said. I really know that’s true for my kids, they’d request demand them far more frequently—I can still probably rattle off Boynton’s But Not the Hippopotamus with only a prompt or two, despite not having picked up the book for 12-13 years.

It’s also the kind of book that Billups provides here—it’s set in a “crowded, hectic and gruff” city under the sea, with one quiet spot—The Sea This and Sea That Below the Seashore. Missus Bluffington gives a couple of kids (and the reader) a through her very unusual place, full of all sorts of sea creatures, sea plants, fish, and an octopus that shows up in some unusual places.

The rhyming text is fun, and I can imagine a good parent/adult/caregiver can get a good rhythm going while reading it to entertain their audience, but the star of the show is Billups’ illustrations. They’re just great—there’s plenty of color, while still feeling like you’re looking through blue-green water. The octopus’ tentacle alone is great to keep an eye out for, and I love Missus Bluffington’s glasses. But there’s plenty for a child’s eyes to take in while listening to the text being read to/at them.

I can’t forget to mention that it also includes some great back cover book blurbs that’ll amuse the parent/reader, as well as a couple of visual jokes.

This is a fun little book that’ll appeal to kids who love the look of Finding Nemo/Dory and aren’t quite ready for that other city under the sea, Bikini Bottom. I had fun with it, and I bet adult readers for those kids will, too.


3.5 Stars

Saturday Miscellany—9/14/19

Odds ‘n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

* Which I heartily endorse and enjoy.

    A Book-ish Related Podcast Episode you might want to give a listen to:

  • Drinks with Tony: Robert Crais – #49—On Facebook, Crais said: ” This is one of my favorite podcast interviews, gang. I think you’ll agree.” I do agree—not just regarding interviews with Crais, either.

    This Week’s New Releases I’m Excited About and/or You’ll Probably See Here Soon:

  • The Bitterst Pill by Reed Farrel Coleman—Coleman’s (sniff)last (sniff)Jesse Stone (sniff)novel (not the last in the series, I should stress). Opiods in Paradise—a strong one to go out on. Now I live in fear about the state of the series. Here’s what I said about the book.
  • An Orc on the Wild Side by Tom Holt—I need to make room for this on my schedule. In the meantime, here’s what Paul’s Picks had to say.


Irony in the Soul: Nobody Listens Like the Dying by Pete Adams: Jack Austin’s crusade continues

Irony in the Soul

Irony in the Soul: Nobody Listens Like the Dying

by Pete AdamsSeries: Kind Hearts and Martinets, #2

Kindle Edition, 540 pg.
Next Chapter Publishing, 2019

Read: September 5 – 9, 2019

I’m going to be quick, because it’s late and I’m bushed—also, the more I talk about this, the less I seem to like the book. Which isn’t fair—I do like it—but I have issues with it, too. You ever see the memes or jokes online about someone saying they have 6-pack abs, but they’re just hiding/protecting them under a layer of fat? That’s precisely how this book seems to be constructed.

Picking up some weeks after Cause and Effect: Vice Plagues the City, Jack “Jane” Austen is prepared to come back to work, when something happens to compel him to come back. A priest and an imam are violently murdered, with clear indications that the same people behind these attacks were those responsible for the conspiracy uncovered in Cause and Effect, to cause unrest (at least) between the stagnant Christians and the local Muslims, and hopefully spilling over into a large-scale societal unrest.

You’d think this would be enough to bring Jack back early, so he could try to prevent things from getting worse—and he does. He just has to be eccentric for a while in front of his staff, purposely getting himself in trouble and provoking his new Chief. Because that’s what the situation calls for, I guess. I’m glad we’re told over and over again how brilliant he is, and what a good cop, too—because you might miss it otherwise.

It’s a shame we spend so much time with Jack and Mandy off doing all sorts of non-police things (read: sex, talking about sex, and mooning over each other), because the rest of Jack’s team are some truly interesting characters, and it’d be great to see them work. We catch little glimpses of them at work (and some brief idea about their off-duty life), and I think this novel told about them instead of Jack and Mandy would be a much more interesting work.

The word that kept coming to mind (and my notes) as I read this was “self-indulgent.” Adams clearly enjoys talking about some things and making the same jokes—he made one 3 times in the first 4% of the book (and countless times in the other 96%). We get pages and pages of Jack and Mandy romancing each other (and at least one of their subordinates makes a pointed remark about their priorities), of Jack going out of his way to be obnoxious, and other assorted things that seem to actually hinder the investigation. Now Adams is far from the first to be this way—Robert Galbraith’s latest could use a good trim (of about 150-200 pages), as did many of Robert P. Parker’s later works. So the fact that I want to cut about 300 pages from this book puts him in some okay company. In those 300 pages, little happens t advance the plot and we don’t deepen our understanding of the characters, because it covers the same ground over and over and over (again, see later Parker).

All that said, the last 25%± of the novel is really good. Almost all of the weaknesses of the book that had been bugging me faded into the background and the crime story came to the forefront (finally). This is the kind of thing I’d been waiting for. If the book was this part, plus another 50 or so pages to set the scene, create a tone, and whatnot—this would be a much more enthusiastic post. As it is, this last chunk of the book redeems the rest and almost makes it worth the effort to get your hands on the book.

Am I still curious about where things are going, and how Adams plans to get there? Absolutely. I will keep reading—and I did enjoy these books, I just wish they’d be put on a diet so I don’t have to trudge through all the excess material.


3 Stars

My thanks to damppebbles blog tours for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including a copy of the novel) they provided.

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Irony in the Soul: Nobody Listens Like the Dying (Kind Hearts and Martinets #2) by Pete Adams

Today I welcome the Book Tour for the second in the Kind Hearts and Martinets series, Irony in the Soul: Nobody Listens Like the Dying by Pete Adams. Along with this spotlight post, I’ll be giving my take on the novel here in a bit. But before I get to talking about the book, let’s start by learning a little about this here book, okay?


Book Details:

Book Title: Irony in the Soul: Nobody Listens Like the Dying by Pete Adams
Publisher: Next Chapter Books
Release date: June 28, 2019
Format: Paperback/Ebook
Length: 540 pages

Book Blurb:

Recuperating from his past mission, disturbed but driven D.I. Jack Austin returns to work amid a personality clash with a retired colonel – who happens to be his new Chief Constable.

When the Constable is kidnapped – and returned in pieces – DI Austin’s hapless hunt for the culprit begins. He investigates a string of cryptic murders including a beheaded minister, a drowned woman in a Hijab, and a band of terrorists with explosives.

Meanwhile, Austin battles a grievous inner conflict. Will he thwart the perpetrator, or become a conspirator himself?

About Pete Adams:

Pete AdamsPete Adams is an architect with a practice in Portsmouth, UK, and from there he has, over forty years, designed and built buildings across England and Wales. Pete took up writing after listening to a radio interview of the writer Michael Connolly whilst driving home from Leeds. A passionate reader, the notion of writing his own novel was compelling, but he had always been told you must have a mind map for the book; Jeez, he could never get that.

Et Voila, Connolly responding to a question, said he never can plan a book, and starts with an idea for chapter one and looks forward to seeing where it would lead. Job done, and that evening Pete started writing and the series, Kind Hearts and Martinets, was on the starting blocks. That was some eight years ago, and hardly a day has passed where Pete has not worked on his writing, and currently, is halfway through his tenth book, has a growing number of short stories, one, critically acclaimed and published by Bloodhound, and has written and illustrated a series of historical nonsense stories called, Whopping Tales.

Pete describes himself as an inveterate daydreamer, and escapes into those dreams by writing crime thrillers with a thoughtful dash of social commentary. He has a writing style shaped by his formative years on an estate that re-housed London families after WWII, and his books have been likened to the writing of Tom Sharpe; his most cherished review, “made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think”.

Pete lives in Southsea with his partner, and Charlie the star-struck Border terrier, the children having flown the coop, and has 3 beautiful granddaughters who will play with him so long as he promises not to be silly.

Pete Adams’s Social Media:

Twitter ~ Facebook

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK ~ Amazon US ~ Book Depository ~ Google Books


My thanks to damppebbles blog tours for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including a copy of the novel) they provided.

Bloodline by Pamela Murray: Entertaining and complex

Bloodline

Bloodline

by Pamela Murray

eARC, 202 pg.
Bloodhound Books, 2019

Read: September 4, 2019


After sitting in a doorway unnoticed for a couple of days, someone finally sees that the homeless man isn’t huddled there for a safe place to sleep, but because he’s been killed. The police begin investigating, determining quickly that he wasn’t killed where he was found—so they know this isn’t going to be a quick case, but things quickly escalate beyond that to make this even more complicated.

Two things happen when they ascertain the identity of the man. First, they learn that he’s a police detective working undercover far from home. Later, when his DNA is checked, they discover a shocking tie between the deceased detective and a cold case murder. The squad investigating the murder is split in direction then—two go undercover themselves to attempt to complete his investigation. The rest follow-up on his murder as well as this cold case, hoping to find a connection.

The undercover operation’s target and the way it’s set up if pretty clever, and not that common, I don’t think, among Crime Fiction (I don’t know, it might be run-of-the-mill in reality). It’s pretty easy for the two new detectives to pick up where their fallen comrade left off—but it’s hard to tell where he was, and how they should proceed in tying their target to this murder. The cold case is even more intricate, and complicated by the space and history between the original crime and the present—this is the highlight of the book, if you ask me—I really enjoyed it. The present-day murder is far less complex once they determine who he is, everything from that point is straightforward (which is not a criticism, even police procedurals need some straightforward cases.

But everything seems too compressed, too easy for the undercover officers to infiltrate enough to get into a trusted position necessary to bring the group down and the murder cases come together pretty easily, too. Everything about the novel—all three cases and the inter-personal character development—seems rushed (and therefore the prose is a little clunky). The characters, also, seemed sketchy and ill-defined (which is a shame, at least 3-4 would be well worth fleshing out). There was a lot of telling, rather than trusting the readers to pick up on subtle showing about them. If the book was another 25-40% longer, I think it would’ve helped tremendously

This book had all the makings of a great read—but it missed. It’s a decent way to spend a few hours, and it’s worth paying for it. I liked it, but I think if Murray had explored things a little, built in some more suspense, and just made all the various officers work a little harder before getting to the closings of the cases, it could’ve been great, not simply good.


3 Stars

My thanks to Bloodhound Books for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including the novel) they provided.

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Bloodline by Pamela Murray

Today I’m pleased to welcome the Book Tour for Bloodline by Pamela Murray. Along with this spotlight post, I’ll be posting my take on the novel here in a bit.

Book Details:

Book Title: The Editor by Simon Hall
Publisher: Bloodhound Books
Release date: September 8, 2019
Format: Paperback/ebook
Length: 202 pages

Book Blurb:

When a young boy discovers a man’s body lying in a doorway, DI Burton and DS Fielding are called to the scene.

Believing the man was homeless, the police are shocked to discover the true identity of the victim; a Detective Constable from London who was working undercover.

But when the DNA from the victim is linked to a cold case Burton and Fielding find themselves looking into another unsolved murder.

And as the case unfolds, the detectives are faced with unpicking through a web of lies and deceit. But can they solve the murders before any more blood is spilt?

About Pamela Murray:

Pamela MurrayPamela Murray is from the North East of England, and has spent most of her life living in Boldon. She began writing at an early age when she and her school friend used to write stories for one another. The writing continued on and off over the years, but was only recently reignited when the same school friend introduced her to the local writers group she was in.

Pamela had intended to enter Journalism after leaving school but found herself going to work in a Public Library instead, and has always had more than a passing interest in books and literature.

When not writing, Pamela is passionate about Cinema and her three grandchildren. She has also appeared as a Supporting Artiste in two episodes of the hit TV crime series “Vera”.


My thanks to Bloodhound Books for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including the novel) they provided.