Mandi’s Reads: Spinster Fun

Surprised girl with books

I turned 29 last week. I have just scant months left of my twenties. And what have I accomplished? It’s almost too late for me to be on any “30 Under 30″ lists. (If you are putting together any “30 Under 30” lists, feel free to add me to them.) My mom has already informed me that she wants to be as far away from me as possible next year for my 30th birthday. She can smell a meltdown 11 months away.

I’ve felt the clammy, bony hand of my old age creeping up on me for a while now. I started finding gray hairs at age 26. (More accurately, I started finding gray unibrow hairs at age 23). Yes, I know age is just a number/state of mind/blah blah blah, and I have had multiple preschoolers and kindergarteners tell me they think I’m a little kid just like them. In fact, my niece once asked, “Auntie Mandi, are you a grown-up or a little kid? Because I can’t tell.” She eventually settled that I am “half grown-up, half little kid,” which is accurate. I have a little kid’s love of fun. I think a lot of things are fun: eating, gossiping, eating, dancing, eating, watching tv, eating, and, of course, reading. So, here are two of the most fun books I’ve read recently.


Cinnamon and Gunpowder

By: Eli Brown

I am a procrastinator. I never do today what I can put off until tomorrow, or better yet, until three weeks from now. I was told I should read this book months ago, and I just never got around to it. Oh, procrastination cost me so much literary fun! If I were telling you about this book in person, I would grab you and squeal. I would get very high-pitched and very excitable very quickly, and youCinnamon and Gunpowder would become annoyed and/or uncomfortable. I’m sorry. I’m an exuberant person and a squealer to boot (blame my sordid pageant past), but this book is worth exuberance. It reads like a comic Treasure Island, if Alton Brown were a character in Treasure Island.

Owen Wedgwood is a renowned culinary artiste, living a life of quiet, delicious contentment as the private chef for Lord Ramsey. Our darling chef is about to serve a roast duck in cherry glaze when a band of pirates interrupts the elegant dinner. Quelle horreur! Fearsome pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot storms in and, well, puts a couple of bullets straight in the heart of Wedgwood’s boss. But fortunately for our chef, Mad Hannah gets a taste of his delectable cuisine. She kidnaps him, absconds with him to her pirate ship, and strikes a deal: he will stay alive as long as he cooks her a different, delicious meal every Sunday. Wedgwood looks around his supplies: weevil-infested flour, gunpowder-cured horse meat, and fresh-caught eels, and he assumes his death is assured.

Wedgwood doubts his resourcefulness, but manages to produce meal after delicious meal and discovers there just may be more to Mad Hannah than he initially thought.

Reads well with: The Pirate King and blue cheese


The Dark Witch

By: Nora Roberts

I like magic. I like magical romances. I like magical romances that are set in Ireland and have supernatural horses and supernatural falcons and supernatural dogs. You know what you’re Dark Witchgetting with a Nora Roberts book. You know you’re getting a supernatural romance with a little danger and intrigue, and, ultimately, a happy ending.

The Dark Witch begins, coincidentally enough, with a dark witch battling an evil lord who desires her body, heart, and powers. She resists him for as long as she can, but their battles render her weakened. As her last act, she divides her powers among her three children and casts a spell to ensure their future descendants will inherit those powers. Only when three of her descendants unite their separate powers will they have a chance to finally defeat the evil lord (because this is a supernatural romance, and the power of three cannot be denied, especially in supernatural romances—this is the first in a trilogy, after all).

Reads well with: Season of the Witch and stew

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