Thursday, May 21, 2015

Cookbook Review: North

Iceland is known for being one of the most beautiful and untouched places on earth, and a burgeoning destination for travelers lured by its striking landscapes and vibrant culture. Iceland is also home to an utterly unique and captivating food scene, characterized by its distinctive indigenous ingredients, traditional farmers and artisanal producers, and wildly creative chefs and restaurants.
Perhaps no Icelandic restaurant is as well-loved and critically lauded as chef Gunnar Gíslason’s Restaurant Dill, which opened in Reykjavík’s historic Nordic House in 2009. North is Gíslason’s wonderfully personal debut: equal parts recipe book and culinary odyssey, it offers an unparalleled look into a star chef’s creative process. But more than just a collection of recipes, North is also a celebration of Iceland itself—the inspiring traditions, stories, and people who make the island nation unlike any other place in the world.

I loved the pictures and reading and learning new things about Iceland.  The pictures of Iceland were absolutely gorgeous.  I really like the new trend I'm seeing in some cookbooks where you learn not only new recipes, but about the culture or country where the recipes originate.  Unfortunately, as a cookbook, this wasn't a big hit for me.  I would probably cook very few of the recipes.  They just didn't look or sound very appetizing to me, and many of the ingredients would be hard to find.  

I still think this cookbook is worth having in my collection, and I really enjoyed reading it.

Book Review: Undertow

Undertow (Undertow #1)Undertow by Michael Buckley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: May 5, 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Source: Netgalley review copy

Sixteen-year-old Lyric Walker’s life is forever changed when she witnesses the arrival of 30,000 Alpha, a five-nation race of ocean-dwelling warriors, on her beach in Coney Island. The world’s initial wonder and awe over the Alpha quickly turns ugly and paranoid and violent, and Lyric’s small town transforms into a military zone with humans on one side and Alpha on the other. When Lyric is recruited to help the crown prince, a boy named Fathom, assimilate, she begins to fall for him. But their love is a dangerous one, and there are forces on both sides working to keep them apart. Only, what if the Alpha are not actually the enemy? What if they are in fact humanity’s only hope of survival? Because the real enemy is coming. And it’s more terrifying than anything the world has ever seen.

This started off pretty slow, and I had a hard time getting into it. I just wasn't feeling any of the plot points. The first 3/4 of the book was probably 3 stars at best (if I was being generous). But the end got really exciting and good, and I'm really looking forward to seeing where the story goes from here.

The romance wasn't believable for me. I didn't get a big sense of connection between Lyric and Fathom. It's not that it wasn't predictable. Almost every YA seems to have a romance of some type. But the nice thing is I don't think the romance overshadowed the story.

There was a lot of stuff that just didn't make a lot of sense. Like who exactly was making the decisions. Was it the President? If so, why didn't he (or she, I can't even remember if it was mentioned) ever step in when things started going bad?

Overall it was a pretty good book with quite a different storyline than usual. I would recommend it, with the caveat that the reader needs to remember it's a slow starter.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Book Review: Boywatching

BoywatchingBoywatching by Chloe Bennet
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Publication Date: June 4, 2015 by Orchard Books
Source: Netgalley review copy

The annual joint school dance (aka the Snog Fest) is looming, and Chloe and her three best friends are determined not to repeat last year's disaster, which led to Year 9's top Mean Girl, Maggie, humiliating them online as a pack of sad losers. First they need to figure out just what's going with the utterly incomprehensible yet strangely attractive St Thomas's boys - and so the science of BoyWatching is born...

This reminded me so much of the Georgia Nicholson books by Louise Rennison. I liked those 10+ years ago, but the most recent one I read I didn't care for. So I think this type of book just isn't my thing anymore. There really wasn't any plot here. It was about young teenage girls going to school, hanging out, and talking about boys. That was seriously it. Just not enough to really hold my interest (even though I did finish it).

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Book Review: The Fire Sermon

The Fire Sermon (The Fire Sermon, #1)The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publication Date: March 2015
Source: Netgalley review copy

 They were born together and they will die together.

One strong Alpha twin and one mutated Omega; the only thing they share is the moment of their death.

The Omegas live in segregation, cast out by their families as soon as their mutation becomes clear. Forced to live apart, they are ruthlessly oppressed by their Alpha counterparts.

The Alphas are the elite. Once their weaker twin has been cast aside, they're free to live in privilege and safety, their Omega twin far from their thoughts.

Cass and Zach are both perfect on the outside: no missing limbs, no visible Omega mutation. But Cass has a secret: one that Zach will stop at nothing to expose.

The potential to change the world lies in both their hands. One will have to defeat the other to see their vision of the future come to pass, but if they're not careful both will die in the struggle for power.

This wasn't bad, but altogether it fell short of being something that I would recommend. Even though the main characters were on the run, and it should have felt very suspenseful, I didn't ever feel a whole lot of urgency. The characters and the story just kind of ambled along until the end.

Kip, the love interest, wasn't appealing to me at all. The love story itself wasn't great, actually. To have your hero have amnesia, and no personality whatsoever, is not a good way to draw your readers in and make them root for the couple.

Overall this book felt very blah to me, and while I may read the next book in the series, it's not something I'm really anticipating.

View all my reviews

Monday, March 30, 2015

Book Review: Nightbird

NightbirdNightbird by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Publication Date: March 5, 2015
Source: Netgalley review copy

Twig lives in Sidwell, where people whisper that fairy tales are real. After all, her town is rumored to hide a monster. And two hundred years ago, a witch placed a curse on Twig’s family that was meant to last forever. But this summer, everything will change when the red moon rises. It’s time to break the spell.

I love to read, and in general it doesn't matter what age group a book is written for. If it's well written and interesting, I like it. Having said that, this book just felt way too young to me. It wasn't very interesting, and I didn't really connect with the story. And besides that, it was a little too happily ever after.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Book Review: Flunked

Flunked (Fairy Tale Reform School, #1)Flunked by Jen Calonita
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Source: Netgalley review copy

Full of regret, Cinderella's wicked stepmother, Flora, has founded the Fairy Tale Reform School with the mission of turning the wicked and criminally mischievous into upstanding members of Enchantasia.

Impish, sassy 12-year-old Gilly has a history of petty theft and she's not too sorry about it. When she lifts a hair clip, she gets tossed in reform school-for at least three months. But when she meets fellow students Jax and Kayla, she learns there's more to this school than its sweet mission. There's a battle brewing and she starts to wonder: can a villain really change?

This wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. As someone who really loves fairy tales, I was expecting to like this a lot more than I did. I think it had a lot of potential, but for me it just failed to deliver. I wish the fairy tale world had been used more, but it felt like mostly it was just name-dropping of fairy tale characters. Overall just not what I was hoping for. Younger readers might like it more than I did, but I've read better middle grade books.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Book Review: Dead Heat

Dead Heat (Alpha & Omega, #4)Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Source: Netgalley review copy

For once, mated werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles’s role as his father’s enforcer. This time, their trip to Arizona is purely personal, as Charles plans to buy Anna a horse for her birthday. Or at least it starts out that way...

Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous Fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The Fae’s cold war with humanity is about to heat up—and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire. 

I liked this okay, but it wasn't my favorite by this author. I seem to be liking her books less and less lately. Dead Heat seemed to get really bogged down with all the horse talk, and I found it rather slow in the middle. Even though this is the 4th book in the series, I didn't feel much of a connection with the characters.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Review: Wide-Open World

Wide-Open World: How Volunteering Around the Globe Changed One Family's Lives ForeverWide-Open World: How Volunteering Around the Globe Changed One Family's Lives Forever by John Marshall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publication Date: February 2015
Source: Netgalley

John Marshall needed a change. His twenty-year marriage was falling apart, his seventeen-year-old son was about to leave home, and his fourteen-year-old daughter was lost in cyberspace. Desperate to get out of a rut and reconnect with his family, John dreamed of a trip around the world, a chance to leave behind, if only just for a while, routines and responsibilities. He didn’t have the money for resorts or luxury tours, but he did have an idea that would make traveling the globe more affordable and more meaningful than he’d ever imagined: The family would volunteer their time and energy to others in far-flung locales. 

This started off really good, and I was smiling and even laughing a little bit as I was reading. As a person who would love to travel around the world, I thought this was going to be a favorite book for me. And it really started out promising.

But then somewhere around India I started to get a bit bored. I just didn't care anymore, and was ready for the book to be over. I don't know if it's that the author cared a bit less at this point, and didn't try to make the book as interesting, or if I was just over it. Their last volunteer stop just bored me completely, and there was almost nothing interesting about it.

I'm glad I read this, if only to let me know that I probably don't want to go volunteering around the world. I'd rather travel as a tourist, as selfish as that might make me sound.