Weekly Reads: 7.21.14

Well, Nick and I have shipped our daughter off to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. We’re very nervous, even though it’s the third time she’s stayed with them. I do plan to get a lot of reading done, but also a lot of other stuff!

After I finished Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois, I repicked up

The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer


The Uncoupling
By Meg Wolitzer

If you’re interested in my thoughts as I read the book, check out my new Tumblr Totally Contains Spoilers.

What are you reading this week?

**Linked up with Book Journey**

New Book Spotlight: Everyday Celebrations with Maria Loggia

I’m a big fan of lifestyle cookbooks, and I’m very happy to share this spotlight with you!


Maria Loggia’s kitchen door is always open. Her home and garden are a gathering place for friends and family, who come to share her easygoing enthusiasm and generosity – and her inspired Italian cuisine. In this, her second book, Loggia celebrates the seasons with 16 sumptuous menus – from a spontaneous al fresco garden party to a slow-simmered midwinter feast and a traditional Sunday family lunch.

Everyday Celebrations with Maria Loggia is on a spotlight tour from July 14 to 18.

Author & Chef: Maria Loggia

Category: Non-fiction

Genre: Cooking, Food & Wine, 176 pages

Publisher: Cardinal Publishing

Published: Oct 1, 2012

Amazon.ca * Cardinal Publishing * Amazon.com


Try One of the Recipes!


Petto di Pollo Farcito con Uva e Noci

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Grapes and Walnuts




For filling:

1 tbsp (15 ml) unsalted butter

2 tbsp (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

2 shallots, finely chopped

¾ cup (180 ml) walnuts, coarsely chopped

½ cup (125 ml) red seedless grapes, quartered

2 tbsp (30 ml) finely chopped fresh chives

2 tbsp (30 ml) bread crumbs

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

7 oz (200 g) soft goat cheese, cut in 6 slices


For chicken:

6 tbsp (90 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

6 bone-in chicken breasts, skin on

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

3 tbsp (45 ml) unsalted butter, softened

1 orange, cut into wedges

3 sprigs fresh rosemary, each cut in half

5 bay leaves

To serve:

Freshly squeezed juice of 1 orange


Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

To prepare filling: Heat butter and oil in a large skillet and sauté shallots until soft, 1 to 2 minutes, and remove from heat. Stir in walnuts, grapes, chives and bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool slightly. Leave goat cheese aside for now.

To prepare chicken: Oil a 14-inch (35 cm) round earthenware tiella or roasting pan with 2 tbsp (30 ml) of the olive oil and set aside. On a baking sheet, season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Make a lengthwise slit in each chicken breast, being careful not to cut all the way through. (This will form the pocket for the stuffing.) Rub remaining 4 tbsp (60 ml) olive oil into the chicken (including in the pockets). Divide stuffing equally among chicken breasts, stuffing it into the slit in each breast, and top with a slice of goat cheese. Pull the chicken skin over the filling and secure with toothpicks. Smear butter over the skin and season again to taste with salt and pepper.

Gently transfer chicken to prepared tiella. Scatter orange wedges, rosemary and bay leaves around chicken. Roast 35 to 40 minutes, or until juices run clear when the thickest part of the breast is pierced. Then broil 2 to 3 minutes, or until skin is crisp and golden. Drizzle with orange juice and serve warm with pan juices.

Serves 6

Tips from Maria:

Consigli di cucina (kitchen tips)

The chicken breasts can be assembled the day before, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated. When ready to serve, bring chicken to room temperature and cook as instructed. Doing it this way allows the flavours time to meld together beautifully.

Che cos’è? (what is it?)

I’m convinced food tastes better when cooked in a shallow, glazed earthenware dish known in Italian as a tiella. I find earthenware dishes distribute heat slowly and evenly as the food cooks. Aromas and flavours are intensified and casseroles never stick or dry out.

To season a tiella: Before using your tiella the first time, immerse the dish in cold water to soak overnight. The next day, empty the tiella and wipe it dry. Rub the inside with olive oil and place in a preheated 300°F (150°C) oven for 1½ hours. Remove seasoned tiella from oven and place on a wooden board or thick tablecloth to cool. (If placed on a surface like granite or a cold, it will crack.) To clean a


Meet the Author


Maria Loggia is one of Montreal’s best-loved Italian cooking teachers. Her Tavola Mia cooking school in the village of Hudson is a warm, inviting place to learn about Italian cuisine. She also appears regularly on television, is featured in newspapers and magazines, and leads culinary tours in Italy.

Maria finds inspiration in her Italian heritage and draws on family recipes that go back generations. She founded Tavola Mia, her at-home cooking school in 1999. Through her study of Italy’s regional cuisines, which has included numerous sojourns back to her native country, she has acquired great expertise in the art of Italian cooking. Her passion, humor and dedication to excellence have made her an inspiring teacher. Using fresh local ingredients, Tavola Mia celebrates the seasons in authentic, irrepressible Italian style.


An Interview with Maria Loggia

Maria Loggia from Pierre Blais on Vimeo.


Enter the Giveaway!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thank you for supporting our authors!


Weekly Reads: 7.14.14

As I was reading Cartwheel in e-book format last week, a thought crossed my mind that I should check the due date. I forgot. The book expired one night when I was unable to put it down. :(

Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois

By Jennifer duBois

So I picked up

The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer

The Uncoupling
by Meg Wolitzer

I’ll pick up Cartwheel tomorrow at the library, and I can’t wait to finish it! Then, I’ll gladly re-pick up The Uncoupling.

If you’re interested in my generally unfiltered thoughts as I read, check out my new Tumblr Totally Contains Spoilers.

What are you reading this week?

**Linked up with Book Journey**

Weekly Reads: 7.7.14

How was your weekend? I got to fit in a lot of reading, relaxing and household projects. Happy 4th of July indeed!

This weekend I began reading

Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois

By Jennifer duBois

So far, I’m really enjoying this book. Let me know if you’ve read it! If you’re interested in my thoughts as I read the book, check out my new Tumblr Totally Contains Spoilers.

What are you reading this week?

**Linked up with Book Journey**

Weekly Reads: 6.16.14 & Twitterature 6.2014

As I begin the week, I’m finishing How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster. I’m going to be packing and cleaning like mad for the next two nights, so I’ll probably still be reading it when we jump in the car on Wednesday morning. Joining me on the road trip are

The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol. 2 Edited by Lee Gutkind

The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol. 2
Edited by Lee Gutkind

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead 
By Sheryl Sandberg

Twin Cities Noir

Twin Cities Noir


an as yet undetermined piece of fiction. Suggestions? I’m looking for something middle of the road between light and fluffy and dense and confusing.



It’s been a couple months, but I’m happy to return to sharing brief reviews of recent reads.

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

Loving Frank
By Nancy Horan

Complicated, fascinating and so much more. The love affair of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick reflects the architects own work and relationship with his peers.

The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli

The Gondola Maker
By Laura Morelli

Morelli’s debut is a well-crafted story. See what I did there? It’s a gondola making pun!

People of the Book By Geraldine Brooks

People of the Book
By Geraldine Brooks


As always, Brooks has woven together a web of richly detailed and fascinating stories into one must-read novel.

What are you reading this week?

**Linked up with Book Journey**

**Linked up with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Twitterature**

Exploring the Twin Cities: Minneapolis’ Lakewood Cemetery

We’ve lived in Minnesota for two years, but haven’t spent a lot of time exploring the area and its history. In addition to just being a general book nerd, I also consider myself a history nerd, so I’ve been a little appalled with myself for not getting out to explore more. It’s time to rectify that.

My husband took a brief tour of Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis near Lake Calhoun in April, and he’s been telling me about it ever since. It was only going to be a matter of time before we went.

IMG_8499Every blade in the field, every leaf in the forest, lays down its life
in its season, as beautifully as it was taken up. 

- Henry David Thoreau
(enscribed in Lakewood’s newest mausoleum, a must see modern masterpiece)

We toured Lakewood Cemetery on Memorial Day. There were plenty of activities scheduled for that day–horse carriage rides, trolley tours of the cemetery and the old city streetcar running between the cemetery and Lake Harriet. But on any other day, a self-guided walking or driving tour would provide a great insight to the history of Minneapolis and Minnesota that Lakewood holds.

Lakewood Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota

The 250-acre cemetery is covered with trees, providing shade and atmosphere. Countless memorials–to famous, recognizable people and to others–dramatically dot the landscape.

With somewhere near 100,000 dead buried here, the monuments and headstones bely a history that can be both sordid and fascinating–those whose deaths were a scandal and those who died amid a scandal.

Lakewood Memorial Chapel Collage


Lakewood features prominent architectural styles in its monuments, but also in its facilities. The Memorial Chapel, above, is an early 1900s masterpiece that is modeled on the Hagia Sophia on the outside. On the inside, it features beautiful Byzantine mosaics (see the angels on the right top and bottom). But it also features Celtic influences, seen in the cross at the top and some love knots in the stained glass. Most interesting to me during my visit was the arts-and-crafts-style stained glass as somewhat seen in the right middle image. Arts and crafts style was popular at the time. During my visit I was reading Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. Frank Lloyd Wright included similar stained glass patterns in to his Oak Park, IL homes to provide light but filter out the neighboring houses, which he believed were inferior to his own designs.

Book Recommendation

As I heard a few of the stories of the people (or bodies) who will spend eternity near the shores of Lake Calhoun, I couldn’t help but think of one book.

We'll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down by Rachael Hanel
We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down
By Rachael Hanel
My Review

As a child growing up in rural Minnesota south (and a little west) of the Twin Cities, Hanel spent a lot of time in cemeteries. Her father was a gravedigger and caretaker. Her mother often helped out, so they brought their daughter along with her bike to hang out. Hanel often found herself observing the headstones, considering the dashes and asking her mom to tell her the stories of the individuals buried there. Some of those stories, like the ones Lakewood holds, are full of sordid, tragic details.

Cemeteries Collage

Additionally, if how we handle death interests you, I’d recommend Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach and On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

Lakewood Cemetery and the shores of Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet are must sees when visiting the Twin Cities. You could spend a few hours to an entire day just exploring the area even if you don’t hit up any shops in Uptown. But if you do hit Uptown, make sure you stop at Magers & Quinn Booksellers and support the indy booksellers.

Weekly Reads: 6.2.2014

It’s so cliche, which I’ve addressed before, but I’m amazed that it’s already June! Summer is upon us!

I’m currently finishing

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan | Weekly Reads at the 1000th Voice

Loving Frank
By Nancy Horan

I’m enjoying this book, but it also pains me and makes me think. I’ll share my extra thoughts when I review it.

Up next, I’m going to also finish reading

Twin Cities Noir | Weekly Reads at the 1000th Voice

Twin Cities Noir


What are you reading this week?

**Linked up with Book Journey**

Richly Descriptive: A Review of Laura Morelli’s The Gondola Maker

The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli is historical fiction set in Venice on this week's Weekly Reads.

The Gondola Maker
By Laura Morelli


The Gondola Maker is a wonderful piece of historical fiction about Luca Vianello, who is, as you probably guessed, a gondola maker, or actually, he’s the son of a gondola maker. I guess he doesn’t get to be considered a gondola maker himself until his father is dead.

Although it is historical fiction, The Gondola Maker had a very literary fiction feel to it, starting at a slow burn and focusing on a character and his motivations throughout the book. The ending was a little unexpected for me. About halfway through the book I thought I knew how it would end. I appreciated the surprise at the end.

Morelli’s Ph.D. in art history really shows through in her rich descriptions of the art, architecture and gondolas of Venice that transported me into each scene.


Without focusing on the topic, I’ve read a number of great books about Venice. I recommend checking out these great books in addition to picking up The Gondola Maker:

In the Company of Courtesan by Sarah Dunant | Books featuring Venice | The 1000th Voice Blog

In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant

Dunant’s historical fiction follows a courtesan escaping Rome during the sacking to take up residence and rebuild her life in Venice. The tie in to Venice around the same time as The Gondola Maker makes this an ideal book to read if you liked this one, Rome or historical fiction.

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks | Books featuring Venice | The 1000th Voice Blog

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Venice (again around the same time as The Gondola Maker) plays a part during a small section of the book, but the Venetian setting and story are unmistakable.

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt

John Berendt, who also wrote the successful Midnight in the Garden of Evil, brought his brand of extremely longform journalism to Venice with this amazing book. Following a modern day scandal, Berendt talks about the current city’s struggles and its history that led to where it is today.


Writing 4 out of 5 stars

Morelli’s descriptive sentences were rich and beautiful.

Character Development 4 out of 5 stars

Luca, the main character, is very developed. His actions throughout the book all make sense based on the traits and characteristics we learn about.

Storytelling 4 out of 5 stars

Morelli’s story is entertaining and well told.

Total 4 out of 5 stars 

Have you read The Gondola Maker or another book (fiction or nonfiction) feature the city of Venice? What did you think?

1-iRead Button small

I read and reviewed this book as part of an iRead Book Tour.
My only compensation was a free ebook.
All thoughts and opinions are my own.