(Review) A Square Meal: A Culinary History OF The Great Depression by Jane Ziegelman and Andrew Coe


Publisher and Publication Date: HarperCollins. August 16, 2016.
Genre: Nonfiction. History of eating during the Great Depression.
Pages: 336.
Source: Library.
Rating: Good.


This is the first book I’ve read about a history of eating!
The Great Depression is one of my favorite topics to read. A book about eating during the Great Depression is something I had to read. My parents were children during this era. I’ve heard their stories about growing, preparing, cooking, baking, and storing foods. I wanted to hear how other American people ate.

In the front inside flap of the book, A Square Meal is explained as a history of eating during the Great Depression. Yes, the book covers this topic. However, the book begins with World War I and how the American soldiers ate on the battlefield. Additional surprises about this book is in the late 1800s nutrition in food was studied. By 1907, scientists were studying how deficient diets caused diseases like scurvy and rickets. Vitamin research was studied which led to an understanding of how Vitamins A and B can help people have a “healthy life.”
Chapter 3 moves on to the Great Depression years. In this chapter, the history of breadlines and the birth of the School Lunch Movement.

For many students, lunch was their only meal of the day; parents counted on it, not only for the sake of the child, but with one meal covered by the lunchroom, more food was left for the rest of the family. Page 79.

Schools not only provided food but clothing. Lunch meals were often cooked in Homemaking classrooms. On pages 80-81, a meal schedule is given as an example of what was fed to the students in “the New York school system.”
After the stock market crash in 1929, breadlines grew sharply in NYC. In 1931, there were 82 breadlines, feeding 85,000 meals a day. I was interested to learn it was single women who were apprehensive about taking food from a breadline. Women in this culture still were expected to be taken care of by a male figure. Single working women were frowned upon.
Other noted interests in this book: the history of Betty Crocker, casseroles, frozen foods; and the history of sharecropper farmers in rural areas.
I enjoyed reading this book. I’ve heard other reviewers remark-the book is not just about eating during the Great Depression, but I found the additional information about eating in the early 20th century fascinating. For readers who have an interest in the Great Depression this book is a beneficial!


(Review) Sing A New Song: A Woman’s Guide To The Psalms by Lydia Brownback


Publisher and Publication Date: Crossway. October 31, 2017.
Genre: Christian Nonfiction.
Pages: 352.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Very good.


Lydia Brownback website

An interview from Bible Gateway: Lydia Brownback.

Lydia Brownback explains her book as a “launching off” to study the Psalms in a deeper level.
Sing A New Song can be used in a personal or group study.
The book is organized just as the Bible organizes Psalms: The Psalters, Books 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5; and all 150 Psalms are given their own two page chapter.
Each chapter explains: “Theme,” “Harmony,” “Singing In Tune,” “Musical Notes,” God’s Attributes,” and “Sing The Song.”
The three last chapters are how to study the Psalms as a group, growing closer to God, and “different ways to classify Psalms.”

I used Sing A New Song as apart of my daily devotional time.
I began reading through this book last December.
The brief two page study on each Psalm is not exhaustive. It is as Brownback states, “a launching off.” However, if a person is a new Christian they may not understand how to “launch off.” This is why the Appendix section is helpful.
At the least, Sing A New Song, familiarizes the reader with Psalms.

One of my favorites:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire.”
Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Psalm 46:1-11 ESV

(Review) Alligators And Me: My Life In Alabama 1968 by Molly Milner



Publisher and Publication Date: Shoe Button Press. March 23, 2018.
Genre: Nonfiction. Memoir.
Pages: 272.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review. The review copy is paperback and was provided by Molly Milner. The review is in cooperation with Book Marketing Expert.
Rating: Excellent.


I was born in 1964. I don’t remember the turbulent 1960s (expressed in this book) except through the news that came on in the afternoon at supper time, and the music and culture lived out in my older siblings. My eldest sister, born in 1949, remembers seeing water fountains that stated “for white” or “for colored.” As a little girl, she questioned this in her mind.  I grew up in a completely different culture. Mixed dating was frowned on, but I went to school with and played with people of all races. My children have grown up in a culture different than mine. And in future generations, I hope people no matter the color of their skin will live in acceptance and harmony.
The time period for this book is 1966-1969.
Molly Milner in her memoir, Alligators And Me, is the story of a Midwest newlywed couple who accepted the call to move south and pastor a church in Mobile, Alabama. Neither knew what the future held. Both had dreams and ideas about what they hoped to accomplish. Their hopes were a mix of naivete, courage, and determination.
The first theme is racism and segregation in the south. Alabama was a different place from Midwest thinking in regards to segregation of blacks. The book gave me a strong view of what it was like to live in a community of like-minded people who did not believe in equality. I want to clarify, there were white people who believed in the civil rights movement, but their group was small and docile in comparison to a larger group who were vigilant about the status quo of the South.
A secondary theme is the changing culture in regards to women. The idea of having a career outside the home is new in the 1960s. Women who married, and especially after having children, were expected to be homemakers and mothers. Most women did not work after having children. Married mothers who worked outside the home were looked at as suspicious. And don’t get me started on what people thought about divorced women, they were gossiped about and often ostracized.
The 1960s was a decade of radical change in culture and history: President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated, Martin Luther King was assassinated, the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, the Peace Corp program started, a building distrust of government, and the women’s liberation movement.
A third theme in the book is Ed and Molly Milner make a commitment to be apart of the change in how people think and respond to African Americans in society. They wanted to be apart of the growing movement to bring about freedom and equality.
Milner is transparent about her thoughts, feelings, and behavior when her husband tells her they are moving. She was not in agreement. I wondered how on board she was about being a pastor’s wife? She had no idea about this new role, nor the big move. She had been wrapped up in love and in “I do.”
Ned had a commitment to liberal social causes. He’s drawn to helping and persevering for the civil rights movement, but less so with women’ rights. I add this later part, because he was not always understanding about Molly’s feelings. He was headstrong in wanting to help in social causes-the civil rights movement, and this was the key focus in his thinking.
The strength of Alligators and Me is Molly’s ability to take me to this time period. This is an important feature, because of the history involved, as a reader I have to “feel” the time and events.
I saw a transformation in Ned and Molly. What they experienced, and not always together, brought maturity. It is one thing to speak a commitment, it is quite another to follow through with the commitment.
A beautiful added storyline is their sweet dog, Tallulah. No matter what is going on in their lives, they had a beloved dog who loved and accepted them.
I recommend this book for anyone interested in the 1960s and the civil rights movement.


(Review) The Storm of the Century: Tragedy, Heroism, Survival, and the Epic True Story of America’s Deadliest Natural Disaster: The Great Gulf Hurricane of 1900 by Al Roker



Publisher and Publication Date: William Morrow. 2015.
Genre: Nonfiction.
Pages: 320.
Source: Library.
Rating: Very good.

Previous to this book I’ve read, Galveston: A History of the Island by Gary Cartright, and Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson.
Gary Cartright died in 2017. His book Galveston: A History of the Island is remarkable in its research and history of Galveston itself. The 1900 hurricane is included, but this book is so much more. His book is one of several I’ve read on Texas history.
Erik Larson is known for other books of history. The following link is from Goodreads: Erik Larson. I recommend his book as a go to history book on the Galveston hurricane of 1900.

What stands out to me in Al Roker’s book, The Storm of the Century is his focus on weather instruments and meteorology in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I expected this, since Roker is an American weather forecaster.

In 1900, the people in Galveston had a false security. They believed living on an island would not take a direct hit by a hurricane. They believed the bay, “buffered” the storm for them. This is one example of the strange beliefs, misdirected trust, and the ignoring of warnings addressed in the book.

Two things I loved about this book: the personal lives of individual people, and the experiences of those who survived the storm.
A few examples of accounts are Winifred Black, a female reporter who disguised herself as a man to gain entry to the island after the hurricane. Joseph and Isaac Cline. The brothers who were meteorologists living on Galveston Island. Roker remarks on Joseph Cline’s story about warning people near the beach, and his earlier belief about Galveston not needing a seawall. A Dallas insurance man who needed to reach the island after the hurricane to see for himself the damage and losses, his name was Thomas Monagan. A young married black couple, Ed and Annie McCullough. They lived near the beach. Annie loved her prized rose bushes. After the storm, a white couple opened up their home to them. This was a rare hospitality in a segregated era.
The harrowing experiences of the people who survived. Several people remarked that they were sent out to sea by the current, but then brought back to land by the current. I cannot imagine being driven out to sea, wondering if this was it, and later being brought back to land in the dark and not knowing where they were.
After the storm, the gruesome task of recovering bodies and how best to get rid of them. The first choice of getting rid of the bodies didn’t work. A second method had to be implemented. A rough guess of how many people died. Between 6,000 and 12,000.
I love the final chapter on what happened to the survivors. The rest of their lives are given in brief.



The only remaining house on the beach for miles. 




(Review) Moby Dick by Herman Melville



Publisher and Publication Date: The photo above of the front cover is NOT the book I own. My book is a green hardcover, old. Published by Grosset & Dunlap. No date is given in the book. My guess is the 1950s. Originally published 1851.
Genre: Classic fiction.
Pages: 633.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: This is a second read-very good. The first time I read the book-excellent.

Supplemental material in my copy is an introduction by Grosset & Dunlap. Also, an etymology, and eleven pages of quotes.

Two men signup on a whaling ship. One of the men is introduced in the first sentence, he is the narrator. The opening line is considered a classic first line.

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago-never mind how long precisely-having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. Page 11.

The story is told through his perspective. He is a young man, and with a focus of something new, an adventure at sea aboard a whaling ship.

According to SparkNotes the time period is the mid 1830s or 1840s.
The whaling ship is the Pequod. The captain is Ahab. Ahab is a man with one leg. He has an obsession with a whale he has named Moby Dick. Moby Dick is a white whale or beluga.

The story is much more than about Moby Dick.
•Life and work at sea aboard a whaler.
•A study of whales.
•The men who make up the crew of the whaling ship. Mixed races aboard the Pequod, this is a theme itself.
•A sermon on Jonah and the whale.
•Ahab and his obsessive vengeance against Moby Dick.

Not a word he spoke; nor did his officers say aught to him; though by all their minutest gestures and expressions, they plainly showed the uneasy, if not painful, consciousness of being under a troubled master-eye. And not only that, but moody stricken Ahab stood before them with a crucifixion in his face; in all the nameless regal overbearing dignity of some might woe. Page 141.

All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Moby Dick. Page 205.

It’s been several years since I first read Moby Dick. This second time around I gave the book a very good rating. The book didn’t impact me like the first time.
It’s difficult, because I’m sensitive, to read the attack and killing of the whales. A different era, a different culture. Nevertheless, it is tough to read.
The men aboard the whaling ships (other ships are remarked on in the book) have a arduous life.
I’ve read other books about life and work at sea. I recommend Two Years Before The Mast by Richard Henry Dana, Jr.