Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Book Review: How Lunchbox Jones Saved Me From Robots, Traitors, and Missy the Cruel

How Lunchbox Jones Saved Me from Robots, Traitors, and Missy the CruelHow Lunchbox Jones Saved Me from Robots, Traitors, and Missy the Cruel by Jennifer Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: August 11, 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Source: Netgalley review copy

Luke Abbott's school is the losing-est school in the history of losing. And that's just fine for him. He'd rather be at home playing video games and avoiding his older brother Rob and the Greatest Betrayal of All Time.

But now he's being forced to join the robotics team, where surely he'll help uphold the school's losing streak. He'll also meet a colorful cast of characters, including: Mikayla, the girl who does everything with her toes; Jacob and Jacob, who aren't twins but might as well be; the sunflower seed-obsessed Stuart; and Missy the Cruel, Luke's innocent-looking bully since they were six-years-old. But it's an unlikely connection with a mysterious boy known only as "Lunchbox Jones" that will change Luke's life. Turns out, Luke and Lunchbox Jones have a lot more in common than just robots . . . .

This was a lot of fun to read, and even made me laugh out loud a couple of times. I think it's a great book for middle grade readers, and I think my sons (ages 12 and 9) would really like it. I think the main character would be very relatable for young boys, but girls should enjoy the story as well. I would recommend this one.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cookbook Review: The Broad Fork

The Broad Fork: Recipes for the Wide World of Vegetables and FruitsThe Broad Fork: Recipes for the Wide World of Vegetables and Fruits by Hugh Acheson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: May 2015 by Clarkston Potter
Source: Blogging for Books review copy

 In The Broad Fork, Hugh narrates the four seasons of produce, inspired by the most-asked question at the market: "What the hell do I do with kohlrabi?" And so here are 50 ingredients--from kohlrabi to carrots, beets to Brussels sprouts--demystified or reintroduced to us through 200 recipes: three quick hits to get us excited and one more elaborate dish. For apples in the fall there's apple butter; snapper ceviche with apple and lime; and pork tenderloin and roasted apple. In the summer, Hugh explores uses for berries, offering recipes for blackberry vinegar, pickled blueberries, and raspberry cobbler with drop biscuits. Beautifully written, this book brings fresh produce to the center of your plate. It's what both your doctor and your grocery bill have been telling you to do, and Hugh gives us the knowledge and the inspiration to wrap ourselves around produce in new ways.

This is a great cookbook if you get vegetables from a CSA (or something similar) and don't quite know what to do with them. It doesn't have every vegetable included, but there are some ideas for some less common veggies. And some fresh ideas for more common ones, like broccoli and carrots, too. I've been trying to eat vegetarian lately, and was hoping this would give me more ideas for meatless meals, but a lot of the main dishes included meat, relegating the meatless recipes to side dishes. There were a few in there that I will definitely try, though.

It's also a beautiful book with tons of pictures of the recipes. I love this, because it's always nice to know what your recipes are supposed to look like. Not every recipe includes a picture, but most do. I was glad to add this cookbook to my collection, as it does have some great recipes and ideas.

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Book Review: Legacy of Kings

Legacy of Kings (Blood of Gods and Royals, #1)Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Publication Date: August 18, 2015 by Harlequin Teen
Source: Netgalley review copy

Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to newcomer Katerina, who must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But Kat’s first love, Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win her, even if it means competing for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancĂ©e, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

I really didn't care for this one. The way the story was told in third person, present tense is not a style I like at all. And then it kept shifting to different characters, and by the time I got back with a character I had forgotten what was going on with them. It seemed like there was just way too much going on altogether. This is not something I'd recommend.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Book Review: The Coincidence of Coconut Cake

The Coincidence of Coconut CakeThe Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: July 21, 2015
Source: Netgalley review copy

In downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lou works tirelessly to build her beloved yet struggling French restaurant, Luella’s, into a success. She cheerfully balances her demanding business and even more demanding fiancĂ©…until the morning she discovers him in the buff—with an intern.

Witty yet gruff British transplant Al is keeping himself employed and entertained by writing scathing reviews of local restaurants in the Milwaukee newspaper under a pseudonym. When an anonymous tip sends him to Luella’s, little does he know he’s arrived on the worst day of the chef’s life. The review practically writes itself: underdone fish, scorched sauce, distracted service—he unleashes his worst.

The day that Al’s mean-spirited review of Luella’s runs, the two cross paths in a pub: Lou drowning her sorrows, and Al celebrating his latest publication. As they chat, Al playfully challenges Lou to show him the best of Milwaukee and she’s game—but only if they never discuss work, which Al readily agrees to. As they explore the city’s local delicacies and their mutual attraction, Lou’s restaurant faces closure, while Al’s column gains popularity. It’s only a matter of time before the two fall in love…but when the truth comes out, can Lou overlook the past to chase her future?

I'm kind of surprised how much I liked this one. It was pretty much the typical romance formula, and of course you could see what was going to happen a mile away, but it was still good. The story itself was just really sweet, and I liked both of the main characters, as well as the side characters.

I love food, so the fact that so much of this book centers around food was a plus, and we also really got to know the city of Milwaukee. I would love to read more story set in this world, maybe focusing on some of the side characters (although as far as I know, the author has no plans for that).

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cookbook Review: A Modern Way to Eat

A Modern Way to Eat: Over 200 Satisfying, Everyday Vegetarian Recipes (That Will Make You Feel Amazing)A Modern Way to Eat: Over 200 Satisfying, Everyday Vegetarian Recipes by Anna Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: June 2014
Source: Blogging for Books

How we want to eat is changing. We want to eat food that is a little lighter, healthier and easier on our pockets, without having to chop mountains of veg or slave over the stove for hours.

More and more people are looking to include vegetarian recipes in their life beyond a mushroom risotto or yet another red onion and goat’s cheese tart.

A Modern Way To Eat has over 200 recipes that are as simple to make as they are nourishing, satisfying and truly tasty. Based on how Anna likes to cook and eat every day, it covers everything from quick breakfasts to celebratory dinners, using different grains, nuts, seeds and seasonal vegetables whilst avoiding the usual vegetarian reliance on dairy, heavy carbs and stodge.

I have recently acquired the new hobby of collecting and reading cookbooks, mainly because I love to cook. I love reading the little extra information for each recipe and looking at the pictures. Some cookbooks are lovely, but are filled with recipes that I most likely won't ever try. The great thing about A Modern Way to Eat is that it is a beautiful book, but more importantly, I want to cook every single recipe in here.

They don't look very complicated, and seem fairly quick to make. So far I have tried one recipe from the book: Avocado and Lemon Zest Spaghetti. My husband came home while I was cooking and said it smelled really good. And it also tasted delicious, which is a good thing. I'm not a vegetarian, but I would like to eat a lot less meat. It's expensive, especially if you don't want to buy it from the grocery store where you get mostly factory farmed meat. So this cookbook came just at the perfect time, and will get a lot of use in my home.

I got this book free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Book Review: Silver in the Blood

Silver in the Blood (Silver in the Blood, #1)Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Publication Date: July 7, 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Source: Netgalley review copy

Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate... or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might.

I didn't like this book at all. This was my first book by this author, so I'm not sure if I just don't care for her writing, or if it was just this particular book. There wasn't really one thing that I can point to that I liked while reading this. I hate to be harsh, and I'm sure there is an audience for this book out there. I just found it boring and predictable.

On further looking, I see that I have read another book by Jessica Day George, and I liked it quite a lot, so it's just this particular story that I didn't care for.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Book Review: The Fixer

The FixerThe Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publication Date: July 7, 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Source: Netgalley review copy

Sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick has spent her entire life on her grandfather's ranch. But when her estranged sister Ivy uproots her to D.C., Tess is thrown into a world that revolves around politics and power. She also starts at Hardwicke Academy, the D.C. school for the children of the rich and powerful, where she unwittingly becomes a fixer for the high school set, fixing teens’ problems the way her sister fixes their parents’ problems.

And when a conspiracy surfaces that involves the family member of one of Tess's classmates, love triangles and unbelievable family secrets come to light and life gets even more interesting—and complicated—for Tess.

I'm not sure why I requested this on Netgalley in the first place, since it really isn't my type of book. Something about the synopsis caught my eye though, I guess. After reading, I'm still pretty sure it's not my type of book.

It was interesting enough, but there was nothing that really drew me in, and I found the whole thing pretty unbelievable. And then there were certain aspects of the plot that were really predictable too. I really wish the book had been about her friend Asher, or that he would at least have been in the book a lot more, because he was really the only interesting character for me.

Overall I wouldn't recommend this unless you really like political stuff.

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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Cookbook Review: Fika

Fika: The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break, with Recipes for Pastries, Breads, and Other TreatsFika: The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break, with Recipes for Pastries, Breads, and Other Treats by Anna Brones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: April 2015 by Ten Speed Press
Source: Review copy from Blogging for Books

Sweden is one of the world’s top coffee consuming nations, and the twice-daily social coffee break known as fika is a cherished custom. Fika can be had alone or in groups, indoors or outdoors, while traveling or at home. A time to take a rest from work and chat with friends or colleagues over a cup and a sweet treat, fika reflects the Swedish ideal of slowing down to appreciate life’s small joys. In this adorable illustrated cookbook, Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall share nearly fifty classic recipes from their motherland—from cinnamon buns and ginger snaps to rhubarb cordial and rye bread—allowing all of us to enjoy this charming tradition regardless of where we live. 

I liked this cookbook quite a bit, and plan to try a bunch of the recipes in it. There are some cookbooks that are nice aesthetically, but you know you'd never try most of the recipes. That's not the case with this one. While it might not be the prettiest cookbook I own, it was fun to read, and the recipes are accessible with common ingredients.

It also made me want to live in Sweden where I could have a nice fika break every day. I had no idea the Swedes were so fond of their coffee.

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