Book Reviews and Artichoke Linguini

For our Sunday chat pleasure today, I have several books to tell you about, along with a fabulous new recipe made from my Milk Street Vegetables cookbook. So shall we read first, then eat? I adore the Seasons series, and I finished the fourth one. I am trying to read them in the months that they are set. It was appropriate to take a shot of it next to the orchid, as I am still waiting on it to bloom. The amaryllis leaves are getting bigger, but I am still waiting on it as well.

Waiting Season by Melanie Lageschulte – Another charmer in the Seasons series, this one has Melanie braving out a January snowstorm and February ice storm while taking care of her sheep, chickens, and two tiny kittens abandoned in the freezing cold. Waiting for the pregnant ewes to give birth, and dealing with some of the realities of farm life, Melinda has to make a decision about her own future. This one is shorter, only 233 pages of quick and easy reading that I devoured in just a couple of days.

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult – This pandemic story focuses on one woman’s struggle with her emotions during a time when the whole world shut down. The writing is compelling, keeping the reader interested in seeing what happens next, and what choices Diana will make. A twist in the middle of the book is startling and surprising, and from that point on, the book becomes next to impossible to put down. Highly recommend, five stars!! My blogger friend Diann at Little Penguin Quilts posted that she finished the book right when I did, so we had a fun day of discussing the various twists and decisions. This book would be fabulous for book clubs, so much to talk about!!

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – Interesting premise of a Russian Count, convicted of the dubious crime of being an aristocrat at the eve of the communist revolution, he is sentenced to house arrest for life in a hotel where he had been living. Forced to associate with other classes of people in service jobs, he finds himself making friends, finding allies and coming to terms with a new way of life. The book is a bit long, but does have some interesting asides in footnote form of real history taking place at the time. The story begins in 1922 and runs to 1954, through the upheavals of the depression, war and revolutions. I admit I got a bit bored with it for about a 100 pages in the middle of the book, but persevered because I wanted to know the ending. This is a character study not an action novel, with some laugh out loud funny parts, and a lot of philosophy. It isn’t among my choices for best novels, but it wasn’t bad. Three stars.

Now for some food. This recipe is in the Milk Street Vegetables, cookbook and just looked scrumptious. I am always looking for something different to serve My Sweet Babboo. He will eat just about anything, and likes trying new dishes. This one was a winner with a bright lemon flavor complementing the artichokes and pasta. I thought about making it without the meat for a vegetarian meal, but ultimately decided to use some kielbasa sausage I had in the refrigerator instead of the pancetta.

The recipe goes together quickly with ingredients easy to find. Another plus is you do it all in one pan, cooking the pasta first and reserving some of the water to thicken the sauce. Then drain the pasta, and make the sauce in the same pot. Sear the artichokes, then take half for the sauce, made in a blender and added back to the pan. Lemon juice and zest brighten the sauce, and parmesan cheese completes the dish. Yum!

The recipe is on the Milk Street website as well for those who have a membership there. I did a pdf for you, but rather than type it all, I did a photo of the recipe page, I hope that will do – Artichoke Linguini with Pancetta and Lemon. Next time I make this, I plan to double the artichoke hearts to two cans. Since half of the artichokes are blended into the sauce, it would leave more artichoke pieces in the servings. The meal was delicious.

Your turn, what are you reading now? Have you tried a new recipe recently?

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23 thoughts on “Book Reviews and Artichoke Linguini

  1. karenfae

    I read Wish You Were Here after Diann mentioned it on her blog. The twist in the middle was startling and yes I too had to keep reading after that!

  2. Rheanna

    So happy to know that Wish You Were Here is worth the read. It has been on a few book lists as a “to read this year” but I was a little hesitant after being disappointed in the Last Apothecary which was also touted that way.
    I also liked A Gentleman in Moscow but agree it was a slow read. I am happy I made it through as I liked the ending.
    I am currently reading The Betrayal of Anne Frank. It is a non fiction work about a team who worked to answer the question of who gave the tip that gave away the hiding place of the Frank family, causing them to be deported to the concentration camps. I am about a third of the way in and have liked it. There was much history that I didn’t know related to how the Netherlands treated and deported the Jewish people as well as information about the Frank family.
    I also recently finished Her Hidden Genius by Marie Benedict about scientist Rosalind Franklin whose work was “stolen” by Watson and Crick to discover the structure of DNA. The book is historical fiction but is very well researched and written. Would recommend it.

  3. Julie

    I’m reading an old book I found on my shelf. I think somebody was visiting once and sneaked it in among the books as I know I didn’t buy it! “The Crimes of Charlotte Bronte” – reads like true crime but is clearly marked “A Novel” on the cover, so please don’t get your knickers in a twist about the revelations. Visited my sister yesterday – she had freshly made (by her) linguini drying on the counter and 2 blooming orchids. It feels like we were channeling you. Thank you for the recipe.

  4. I’m back to an oldie but goodie. “The Keeper of the Bees” by Gene Stratton-Porter .just love to put myself in the story and it is written in such away that you can smell the ocean and hear the buzzing bees as you smell the garden of old fashioned flowers.

  5. I just started listening to “Good Wives,” which is the sequel to “Little Women.” I didn’t realize there was one, so I think this will be a good choice for piecing, it kind of fits the task at hand. 😄 No new recipes of late, but the artichoke pasta does sound like a good one to try.

    1. Margiefassler

      I loved A Gentleman in Moscow. In reading The 7 and 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Scot Turton. The jury is still out on it but since I continue reading, it is keeping me interested.
      The pasta sounds yummy.

  6. Sharon F

    Thank you for your recommendations. “Wish You Were Here” sounds like a good book for me to try. Right now I’m reading “American Dirt” by Jeanine Cummins. It’s very well written, good character development, riveting plot, and very descriptive language. But it’s a very difficult book to read because of the brutal violence inherent in the subject matter. Since it is fiction, I’m hoping for a good ending, at least for the main characters.

  7. Sue H

    Nothing new on my front but I think I’ll try your new recipe soon. I’m currently reading All the Light We Cannot See which was another of Diann’s recommended readings. Thanks to all for sharing!

  8. I just finished Golden Girl (Elin Hilderbrand) and Me Before You (Jojo Moyes). Both might be too tough right now for anyone dealing with a recent loss. I felt like they were both well written and didn’t want to put either down (or turn off, as I listen to audio books while sewing). For a really fun story, I could recommend The Santa Suit (Mary Kay Andrews). Lots of fun.

  9. I so enjoyed our chat about Wish You Were Here! It was so great to be able to talk about the book with someone! I have also read A Gentleman in Moscow and found it interesting, but also a slow read. Some books are just like that! Right now I’m reading The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner. It’s about German and Japanese American families who are sent to the Crystal City, TX, internment camp during WWII. I always end up back at historical fiction, but will definitely look for the Melanie Lageschulte books, too.

  10. Priscilla C

    I’m reading The Spies of Shilling Lane. Just getting into it, but am liking it! A mother is looking for her daughter whom she hasn’t heard from in some time. Some humor & a pretty good story.

  11. lois92346

    Thank you for the book reviews. I just ordered “Wish You Were Here” from audible using my credits. I like to listen to books when I rest in the afternoon. The Artichoke Linguini with Pancetta and Lemon sounds delightful and I will be trying that very soon.

  12. Connie Jordan

    Love reading your Blog! Can you tell me where to go on your site to find a cetain receipe? Looking for the raimen noodle that was posted recently but can’t seem to find it.

  13. I always find books to read not only in your wonderful book reviews posts, but also in the comments! This week was no different! Thank you so much for sharing!
    I just finished Anne Bogel’s I’d Rather Be Reading. It’s a short book filled with content to make a reader’s heart glow with understanding. John Grisham’s The Judge’s List has my attention via audio. I am also reading the memoir, Once I Was You by Maria Hinojosa and Infinite Country by Patricia Engel.
    Lately I have been transitioning to the Mediterranean Diet and really enjoying the foods and ease of preparation!

  14. Joan Sheppard

    These sound like very good choices to read while waiting for Mother Nature to calm down – high winds, blustery snow, enough already! I love the artichoke recipes and thanks for using the cans – I tried doing it from scratch and it was more expensive and so time consuming. Thanks!

  15. Debbie Miller Meyer

    Carole, I began by reading the Melanie Lageschulte book you suggested at Christmas. I loved it so much that I used my kindle unlimited and began with her first book and so far I’m on Number 9. I love the stories. Thank you for suggesting them!!

  16. I just finished “Wish You Were Here”. It was exceptionally well written. The turnabout in the middle of the audiobook had me wondering if I had skipped to a new book. At the end, the author’s note explains all the research she did.

    I recently listened to “How the Word Is Passed” by Clint Smith. The author interviews people on their perceptions of historical sites. It is insightful.

    The artichoke pasta sounds wonderful! Just took a cooking class featuring falafel and tzatziki dip…delicious.

    Grateful for your book recommendations and recipe! Have a wonderful week!


    Thank for your suggestions. I will put the books (and those in the comments) on my ‘to be read’ list. I got started reading a series of a biography of Lord Byron by Gretta Curran Browne. There are 7 books in the series, and they read more like a novel than a biography. I normally don’t care for non-fiction, but I am enjoying these, even if they seem to be never ending! I mean, he only lived to be 36 years old! I’ve also discovered a new favorite author: Charles Martin. I’ve read both “Chasing Fireflies” and “When Crickets Cry”, and both are wonderful. I’ll be reading the rest of his books.

    I did make a nice pasta dish the other night. It was a stuffed manicotti with shredded chicken. It used 2 tubs of chive and cream cheese, and had a sauce made of jarred alfredo sauce and roasted red peppers. I ‘tweaked’ it a bit for more flavor, but it was quite good. I will be trying your artichoke pasta in the near future. I love artichokes! I bet adding some spinach would be good too!

  18. Margaret

    Death By jack-o’-lantern by Alexis Morgan. Second book, easy reads and not always realistic conversation but it passes the time.

  19. The recipe sounds wonderful, pasta is always appreciated here. I have just started a book, “Until Leaves Fall In Paris” by Sarah Sundin. I was immediately drawn in by the main character. It takes place during WWII.

  20. I like the Milk Street tv show — the book sounds good, as does the recipe. I liked “Gentleman” but found the first 30 pages or so tough going. I’m rather eager for the movie (or mini-series — not sure which) with Kenneth Branagh at the helm. I’m glad Picoult wrote about the Pandemic. It’s interesting — you see TV from this period and much if it is like it never happened. The same with movies. I wonder how — fifty years later — that would play, almost like the pandemic didn’t occur. I just finished the most recent “Maisie Dobbs” and now am reading about the Anne Frank cold case investigation, which is fascinating.

  21. I started Gentleman from Moscow, but put it down after reading just a little, if a book doesn’t grab me from the beginning I don’t read it. The linguini sounds delicious!

  22. Carol in Texas

    It’s interesting how different people react to the same book. The Gentleman in Moscow is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Everyone in my book club adored it. The writing was out-standing. I had read and enjoyed his first book, The Age of Civility, but it in no way matched this one. Neither does his new book,

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