Ok, so I really enjoyed the “Once Upon A Time” Challenge and I read some great things that I might not have otherwise read, but I was happy to finally read a few things that were more me. I just finished two books that would fall into that category – Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier and The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones. I was looking forward to Burning Bright, but it was not quite as good as The Girl with a Pearl Earring or The Lady and the Unicorn. It lacked the tension of the former and though the characters were interesting they just weren’t that well-developed. What I did like about the book was the details. She created a wonderful backdrop for the story. I couldn’t wait to read the section at the back on the books that she had used for her research and I was delighted to find that some of the figures and events that I’d assumed were fictional were in fact real. And, of course, now I want to read Peter Ackroyd’s biography of William Blake.
I also read The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones. I was surprised by how much I loved this book. I was quickly looking for something to read and I picked this up, basically because I liked the title and the cover. I scanned the description and figured it would be worth a shot. I later noticed it was a June Book Sense pick. I can see why. I love books about food. Even though I’m a vegetarian, I still loved the descriptions of all the dishes and the larger exploration of Chinese culinary theory. It also helps that all the characters were endearing. A great deal of research went into this book as well. Mones opens each chapter with a quote from a fictional book. I was hoping it was a real book. Oh well.