Monday, December 31, 2012

Review: Candy Experiments by LORALEE LEAVITT


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:

Candy is more than a sugary snack.  With candy, you can become a scientific detective. You can test candy for secret ingredients, peel the skin off candy corn, or float an "m" from M&M's. You can spread candy dyes into rainbows, or pour rainbow layers of colored water. You'll learn how to turn candy into crystals, sink marshmallows, float taffy, or send soda spouting skyward. You can even make your own lightning.
Candy Experiments teaches kids a new use for their candy.  As children try eye-popping experiments, such as growing enormous gummy worms and turning cotton candy into slime, they'll also be learning science.  Best of all, they'll willingly pour their candy down the drain.
Candy Experiments contains 70 science experiments, 29 of which have never been previously published.  Chapter themes include secret ingredients, blow it up, sink and float, squash it, and other fun experiments about color, density, and heat.  The book is written for children between the ages of 7 and 10, though older and younger ages will enjoy it as well.  Each experiment includes basic explanations of the relevant science, such as how cotton candy sucks up water because of capillary action, how Pixy Stix cool water because of an endothermic reaction, and how gummy worms grow enormous because of the water-entangling properties.

MY TAKE:

As a kid, I liked candy but I usually couldn't finish eating packs because I got sick of the sweet taste. If I had this book when I was a kid, then those candies wouldn't have gone to waste!

Candy Experiments features loads of experiments you can try with different kinds of candies. Yes, the soda-Mentos experiment can be found here, but there are a lot of other experiments you've probably never even thought of.

I liked a lot of things about this book. First, there were step-by-step instructions and pictures of the results. This way, kids can tell if they're doing it correctly. There are also easy-to-understand scientific explanations so kids can understand what happens to the candy. It's a great way to get your children interested in science.

Thanks to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the e-ARC. Publication date is on January 1, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. There are a lot of experiments you can try.
  2. It makes use of all kinds of candies and chocolates so chances are you already have some of the ingredients on hand.
  3. The pictures make it easier to see what the experiment is aiming for.

THE BAD:

  1. Some might find it wasteful to buy candies just to experiment on them, if they don't already have the candies in stock.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
When the carbon dioxide forms bubbles on the candies, the candies start floating.
READ IT IF:

  1. Your kids eat a lot of candy.
  2. You have tons of leftover candy.
  3. You want your kids to become interested in science.

RATING:
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Sunday, December 30, 2012

In My Mailbox



In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

FROM NETGALLEY:



Fashion Drawing Studio A Guide to Sketching Stylish Fashions by Marissa Bolte
World War II Pilots An Interactive History Adventure by 
Michael Burgan
Third Grade Mix-Up by Michele Jakubowski
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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Review: Chicken Games & Puzzles by Patrick Merrell, Helene Hovanec


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Kids everywhere are crowing about Storey’s popular Games & Puzzles series! The latest addition, Chicken Games & Puzzles, really gives them something to cluck about. Puzzle-masters Patrick Merrell and Helene Hovanec present a flock of activities for plucky kids — mazes, brainteasers, logic puzzles, word searches, jokes, riddles, tongue twisters, and more.
Adorably illustrated, and organized sequentially — with the simplest challenges presented first, the more challenging ones toward the back — Chicken Games & Puzzles will keep kids happily occupied for hours. Offering fun facts about everyone’s favorite bird and challenges that boost problem-solving skills, the book is as educational as it is amusing.
Parents will appreciate the hours of back-seat entertainment and rainy day diversion. Kids, on the other hand, will be egg-static at the wide variety of challenges. There’s nothing afowl here; Chicken Games & Puzzles promises fresh fun for the whole brood!
MY TAKE:

If this book had been around when I was a child, I would have been all over this.

Chicken Games & Puzzles is a collection of various puzzles centered around chickens. The puzzles are divided into several sections with dawn being the first part and night being the last part.

There are a huge variety of puzzles. There are mazes, decoders, spot the difference and so much more, which makes it perfect for kids with short attention spans.

My favorite puzzle is the egg collecting one. Basically, there are dots with circles in between. You and another player take turns connecting the dots and every time a player creates a triangle, he/she writes their name inside the circle in between.

Thanks to NetGalley and Storey Publishing for the e-ARC. Publication date of Chicken Games & Puzzles is on January 1, 2013.

THE GOOD:
  1. The chicken guides are funny.
  2. The puzzles are very varied so you won't get bored.
  3. There's something for everyone.
THE BAD:
  1. Some people may find the constant chicken theme tiresome.
FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Hey, all the letters in JERSEY GIANT can be rearranged to spell "IT'S JEAN GREY."
READ IT IF:
  1. You like puzzles.
  2. Your child likes answering activity books.
  3. You're looking for an activity book for your child.
RATING:
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Friday, December 28, 2012

Review: The Guide to Chinese Horoscopes by Gerry Maguire Thompson

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SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:

A complete fortune-telling guide to your character and your destiny, based on Chinese animal signs – covering relationships, money, career, and health and well-being, with superb artworks of the twelve signs and plenty of helpful, attractive graphics.
This is a simple yet comprehensive guide to using the ancient Chinese system of horoscopes in order to do your own readings. Much more is involved than just the twelve famous animal signs. The author shows how the animal year sign cycle is enmeshed with a repeating cycle of the five elements, yielding a 60-year birth year cycle (5 x 12); and this in turn is modified by an hour of birth cycle, which uses the animal signs in a different way. Yin and yang forces also play a part in the system, which has a classic beauty of design, yet is supple enough to embrace the multiplicity of human experience.
The book includes extensive year charts, followed by a 14-page section for each animal sign, covering personality and aptitude traits, as well as tendencies and potential outcomes with regard to leisure, career, health, money and family life. A separate section covers the relationship potential for each sign, giving helpful scores for every possible combination, with an ingenious graphic chart offering an at-a-glance summary.
The last major section enables you to work out upcoming astrological influences for years to come, helping you to make decisions, deal with change, and cope with other life challenges. 
MY TAKE:
When it comes to horoscopes, I've always found Chinese horoscopes to be more accurate than Western horoscopes.

The Guide to Chinese Horoscopes covers not only the personality traits, careers and compatibility of each sign, there are also predictions for the coming years.

Like most people, I skipped right ahead to my animal sign. Overall, I found the description of my sign accurate, particularly the part about me jumping from career to career because I get bored. What I found even more interesting was how, when I checked the signs of my father, my boyfriend and my mother, all of our careers could be found in the typical careers for our sign. My dad's and boyfriend's careers are pretty common, but my mom's and my careers aren't all that common so that was impressive.

What I like about this book is that there are predictions for the coming years. So, instead of buying books in the future, you can just refer to this one if you want to see what to expect in the future.

Thanks to NetGalley and Watkins Publishing for the e-ARC. Publication date of January 3, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. The personality traits seem accurate.
  2. The compatibility descriptions also look accurate.
  3. There are predictions for future years.

THE BAD:

  1. If you only want to read about your sign, you'll skip a lot of pages.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
From the Rat to the Pig and the Snake to the Sheep, the qualities of each animal sign of the Chinese Zodiac are often at odds with Western stereotypes - for example, while the rat may be considered vermin and a scavenger in the West, for the Chinese it is instead an animal of imagination and ingenuity.
READ IT IF:

  1. You find Chinese horoscopes more accurate than Western horoscopes.
  2. You are curious about the future.
  3. You find personality quizzes fascinating.

RATING:
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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Review: The Worm Whisperer by Betty Hicks

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SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Ellis Coffey loves animals. He spends so much time outdoors that sometimes he thinks he can talk with them. When he discovers a caterpillar that seems to follow his directions, he knows he has a chance to win the annual Woolly Worm Race. The prize money is $1,000—exactly the amount of the deductible for his dad's back surgery. If Ellis is right and he can train his woolly worm to be the fastest in the county, he's sure can solve all his family's problems. But when you're trying to talk to insects, nothing is as simple as it seems.
MY TAKE:
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book other than that Ellis would be something like Cesar Milan.

In The Worm Whisperer, Ellis discovers that he can sort of communicate with animals, particularly caterpillars or woolly worms. This newfound talent will come in handy when he decides to enter the Woolly Worm Race which, if he wins, will net him $1,000, which will allow his father to have much needed back surgery.

I really liked this book. It's very charming and makes you want to live in a small town. The community is very close-knit and helps one another by giving or trading produce from their own backyards. Some readers may also be able to relate to the financial situation of Ellis' family. His father has a herniated disc and cannot continue his job. His mother was laid off work and works as a house cleaner and waitress, and scavenges fixable items and makes blueberry products from the blueberries on their farm.

Ellis is a class clown, which can be annoying sometimes, but he has a good heart. He does his chores and other tasks that his parents give him without complaining, and the only reason why he really wanted to win was because he wanted to help out his parents. This makes him a perfect role model for kids everywhere.

Thanks to NetGalley and Roaring Book Press for the e-ARC. Publication date of The Worm Whisperer is on January 22, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. Ellis is a good role model.
  2. It shows you a nice community that will make you want to live in a small town.
  3. You learn a lot of new words and about animals.

THE BAD:

  1. Some people might get grossed out by woolly worms.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Ellis thought if she could find a way to make pencils out of blueberries, they'd be selling those, too.
READ IT IF:

  1. You like animals and insects.
  2. You like stories set in small towns.
  3. You are looking for a children's book that has a good role model for your child.

RATING:
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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review: Food for a Fish The Whopping Story of Jonah and the Whale by Kelly Pulley


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Author and illustrator Kelly Pulley presents familiar Bible stories in a fun and fresh style for children 4 to 8. Food for a Fish brings to life the “whopping” story of Jonah and the whale. The Magnificent Tales are enjoyable, rhyming Bible stories with clever art and clear lessons. These are stories that the whole family will enjoy, presented in an entertaining way that parents and grandparents won’t grow tired of reading and re-reading night after night. The humorous, contemporary illustrations will keep even today’s media-deluged kids laughing while they learn important biblical messages. Parents will love that their kids are asking to read Bible stories!
MY TAKE
I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would.

In Food for a Fish, we read about the story of Jonah, who was swallowed by a whale after trying to run away from God's plan for him.

It's been awhile since I read the story of Jonah, but this book does match what I remember. The rhymes are pretty good, but my favorite thing about this book are the expressions on the characters and the little things that were added to the illustration to give it a little more depth and add to the story.

Like with the other book I read in this series, I wasn't a fan of the font, though, and I didn't really enjoy the style used to render the illustrations.

Thanks to NetGalley and David C. Cook for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. The illustrations are funny.
  2. Kids will enjoy the rhymes and the story.
  3. It's a good way to introduce kids to the Bible.

THE BAD:

  1. The font and illustration and rendering style might not appeal to everyone.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:

Then God made a storm,
and the rain began lashing!
The wind was whish-whooshing!
The waves were splish-splashing!

READ IT IF:

  1. Your child enjoys stories from the Bible.
  2. You're looking for a children's book with funny illustrations.
  3. Your child likes rhymes.

RATING:
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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
There is no definite online (or indeed offline) source to help you to decide whether surname X is in fact a variant of surname Y, or what variant spellings you can expect for a particular name.
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Monday, December 24, 2012

Review: Good News of Great Joy The Amazing Story of Jesus' Birth by Kelly Pulley


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Author and illustrator Kelly Pulley presents familiar Bible stories in a fun and fresh style for children 4 to 8. Good News of Great Joy brings to life the amazing story of Jesus’ birth. The Magnificent Tales are enjoyable, rhyming Bible stories with clever art and clear lessons. These are stories that the whole family will enjoy, presented in an entertaining way that parents and grandparents won’t grow tired of reading and re-reading night after night. The humorous, contemporary illustrations will keep even today’s media-deluged kids laughing while they learn important biblical messages. Parents will love that their kids are asking to read Bible stories!
MY TAKE:
There are a lot of Nativity books out there, but Good News of Great Joy is entertaining enough to be worth a read.

In Good News of Great Joy, the story of the Nativity is told through rhymes and amusing illustrations.

The rhymes are pretty good and they more or less tell the story, with as much detail as you can possibly fit into a rhyme meant for a young audience. I'm not too fond of the font, though, since I feel like maybe a different font would be a better fit for the story or at least would be more visually pleasing.

The illustrations are okay. They look to me like they were drawn and rendered in a computer program, so it's more of a preference thing if you're going to like the drawings or not. I did enjoy, though, that the illustrations bring a little more humor to the rhymes. I also noticed a bird in one of the pages, which I remember seeing in another book in the series.

Thanks to NetGalley and David C. Cook for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. The illustrations are funny.
  2. The rhymes are entertaining and cute.
  3. It's a happy read for your kids.

THE BAD:

  1. The font and illustrations might not appeal to everyone.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:

To Bethlehem Joseph and Maqry were sent,
so they packed up some things
on their donkey and went.

READ IT IF:

  1. You're looking for a nice Christmas story for your child.
  2. You enjoy children's book composed of rhymes.
  3. You like funny illustrations.

RATING:
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Sunday, December 23, 2012

In My Mailbox



In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

FROM NETGALLEY:




Backyard Foraging 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat by Ellen Zachos
Why Are Orangutans Orange? Science Questions in Pictures—With Fascinating Answers by Mick O'Hare
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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Review: Hooligan Bear A Special Day by Ian Toynton and Andrea Dietrich

SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
When Hooligan Bear discovers that Little Louie has never had a birthday, he quickly comes up with a plan. He gathers the other bears together, and they set off for an exciting adventure at the bakery.
MY TAKE:

I wasn't expecting a lot from this book, but I'm glad I requested it.

In Hooligan Bear A Special Day, Hooligan Bear and his crew try to give Little Louie a special surprise after learning that he has never had a birthday.

I thought the story was very cute. I think I would have appreciated it more had I been able to read the other books, but for those who, like me, haven't read the other books, there's a short introduction at the start that tells Hooligan Bear's story. Hooligan Bear and his group's adventure remind me of a spy action movie. It's definitely the kind of thing that young kids, especially boys, will definitely enjoy. The ending is also quite nice and gives you a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling.

My favorite character is Little Louie, even though he only appeared for a short period of time. He is such a cute little bear!

Thanks to NetGalley and Smith Publicity for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. The bears are very cute.
  2. Their adventure has just enough excitement to entice young boys and girls to read it.
  3. The format of drawings mixed with text remind me of Beatrix Potter's books.

THE BAD:

  1. Younger kids might not be able to appreciate it.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
"I think the answer is at the bakery," announced Hooligan, "and I have a plan."
READ IT IF:

  1. Your child likes bears.
  2. Your child likes stories with actual plot.
  3. You're looking for a children's story with a sweet ending.

RATING:
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Friday, December 21, 2012

Review: Cozy Classics: Pride and Prejudice by Jack Wang and Holman Wang


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Give a kid a classic! Cozy Classics is a new board book series presenting well-loved stories through 12 child-friendly words and 12 needle-felted illustrations. Pride and Prejudice is a timeless romance about how a bad first impression can turn into love, and one of the world’s most beloved classics. Now this classic can be shared with children of any age.
MY TAKE:

I wondered how Pride and Prejudice could be simplified into a children's book. I was pleasantly surprised by how it actually worked.

In Cozy Classics: Pride and Prejudice, the classic book is made into a children's book comprised solely of a few words and pictures that illustrate those words.

Given the format, the choice of words is important in order to tell the story. The book succeeded in that, I think. I also enjoyed the pictures as it really looked like how you imagine Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth to be.

I think this book would definitely appeal to moms as bedtime reading material to their kids since it has something for them too.

Thanks to NetGalley and Smith Publicity - Simply Read Books for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's able to tell the gist of the story.
  2. The dolls in the picture are very identifiable.
  3. It has something for both mother and child to enjoy.

THE BAD:

  1. Since there's only one word per page, older kids might not appreciate this as much.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
sisters
READ IT IF:

  1. You have a young daughter.
  2. You are looking for a book you can read to your toddler, which you'll like too.
  3. You enjoyed Pride and Prejudice.

RATING:
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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Review: The Clean Plates Cookbook Simple Recipes for Healthy, Sustainable, and Delicious Eating by Jared Koch with Jill Silverman Hough


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:

Jared Koch's first book, Clean Plates Manhattan, demystified "clean eating" and mapped out healthy restaurant options all over New York. Continuing in the extremely timely topic of eating clean, organic, and well, his second book, The Clean Plates Cookbook, offers sensible, sustainable, and healthful home cooking for anyone interested in integrating good foods into their lives. It shows readers how to shop for the best ingredients no matter what their diet (omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans can all "eat clean") and how to prepare food that's simple and delicious. Tips and inspiration from chefs and nutrition experts appear throughout the book, and the invaluable resources section breaks down the recipes by category and offers more of his clear and useful shopping guides.
Clean eating is anything but boring: recipes cover beverages, breakfasts, snacks, inventive entrées, and desserts with things like Quinoa Carrot Muffins, Cracked Wheat Sushi, Wild Mushroom Gratin, Lamb Tikka Masala, and Cocoa Cherry Brownies.
Jared Koch is a health coach, nutritional consultant, and the author and publisher of Clean Plates Manhattan, a guidebook that has sold 20,000 copies in two years. Koch and the Clean Plates web site have been featured in multiple mainstream press outlets, including ABC News, NBC New York, Good Day NY, Martha Stewart, and Good Morning America Health. Koch is also a sought-after speaker, including engagements at Google, MTV, Sony, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, Wellpoint Insurance, Time Warner, and Whole Foods. Clean Plates has been endorsed by numerous well-known doctors and celebrities, including Deepak Chopra, Mark Hyman, Dean Ornish, and Mariel Hemmingway.
Jill Silverman Hough is a cookbook author, food and wine writer, recipe developer, and culinary instructor. She's written 100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates to Enjoy with Wines You Love and 100 Perfect Pairings: Main Dishes to Enjoy with Wines You Love. Other book projects include developing the recipes for Skinny Bitch in the Kitch, a New York Times bestseller.

MY TAKE:

There are plenty of healthy-eating cookbooks and books out there, so what makes this different from the rest?

In The Clean Plates Cookbook, we get not only recipes, but an introduction to healthy eating and healthy living.

The biggest difference that I noticed between this book and other books I've read that advocated healthy eating is the fact that the author specifically mentions that a healthy diet that works for one person might not work for another. That is, one person can go on a vegan diet but another person might not be able to go on the same diet without feeling sluggish or not at optimum condition.

Different types of healthy ingredients are also discussed so you learn more about their benefits. The recipes on the book are very creative and healthy, although I think the ingredients aren't as easy to find, especially for those in areas where there aren't any health food stores or organic markets.

Thanks to NetGalley and Running Press for the e-ARC. Publication date of The Clean Plates Cookbook is on December 25, 2012.

THE GOOD:

  1. A specific diet isn't forced on you.
  2. You learn about a variety of healthy ingredients.
  3. There are plenty of creative and yummy-looking recipes.

THE BAD:

  1. Some people may have a hard time finding ingredients.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
My friends like to tease that I have a "salt tooth" in contrast to most people's "sweet tooth."
READ IT IF:

  1. You believe that there isn't a particular diet that works for everyone.
  2. You want to try an organic diet.
  3. You want to try new and healthy recipes.

RATING:
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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review: The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:


UNOFFICIAL AND UNAUTHORIZED
Dine like Draper and Drink like Sterling with More Than 70 Recipes from the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants Seen on Mad Men
Ever wish you could mix an Old Fashioned just the way Don Draper likes it? Or prepare Oysters Rockefeller and a martini the way they did fifty years ago at one of Roger Sterling’s favorite haunts, The Grand Central Oyster Bar? Ever wonder how Joan Harris manages to prepare a perfect crown roast in her tiny apartment kitchen? Or about the connection between Jackie Kennedy’s 1962 White House tour and Betty Draper’s Valentine’s Day room service order?
The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook serves up more than 70 recipes to satisfy a Mad Men appetite! From the tables of Manhattan’s most legendary restaurants and bars to the Drapers’ Around the World dinner, this book is your entree to the culinary world of Man Men-era New York.
Packed with period detail, The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook provides invaluable historical and cultural context for the food and drink featured in the show, tips on throwing a successful ’60s cocktail party, and even a guide to favored Mad Men hangouts. Every recipe inside is authentic to the time.
Whether you’re planning a Mad Men-themed dinner party, need to mix up some authentic Mad Men cocktails, or just can’t get enough of the show itself, this is your essential resource, a guide to all foods and drinks Mad Men. So hang up your coat, pour yourself a cocktail, and get ready to dine like Draper and drink like Sterling with The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook.
Includes a color photo insert of 16 dishes, plus additional black and white photos and other images of bars, restaurants, and food advertisements from the 1960s.
Sample Recipes:
* Playboy Whiskey Sour
* Sardi’s Steak Tartar
* Connie’s Waldorf Salad
* Sal’s Spaghetti and Meatballs
* Pat Nixon’s Date Nut Bread
* Lindy’s Cherry Cheesecake


MY TAKE:

I worked in an advertising agency before so Mad Men interested me, even though I haven't actually gotten around to watching an episode yet. It's a good thing you don't really need to know a lot about the show in order to enjoy this book.

The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook features recipes for food that were either eaten by the characters or were served in the restaurants they visited. Before each recipe, you get a short description of the episode and scene wherein the food was shown.

What I liked about the book was the fact that each recipe, restaurant and food seemed so well-researched and we get a lot of background information, but it's delivered in an interesting way. So really, this book is part Mad Men and '60s guide and part cookbook. For someone who hadn't been born yet during the '60s, I really got a sense of what life was like then, and what the restaurants were like and how the advertising world was back in the days of the Madison Avenue men.

As for the recipes, they were divided into Cocktails, Appetizers, Salads, Main Courses and Desserts. I'm not one for cocktails, but everything in the book looks good. My mom made vinaigrette using the recipe found in the book and she seemed to like it.

Thanks to NetGalley and Smart Pop for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. You get recipes, a Mad Men recap and a history lesson with pretty much each recipe.
  2. Some restaurants actually gave their own recipes.
  3. Everything seems well-researched.

THE BAD:

  1. A lot of the recipes, except for the cocktails, need a lot of ingredients.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Today, the Waldorf Salad served at Waldorf-Astoria includes chopped black truffle shavings and candied walnut halves.
READ IT IF:

  1. You're a fan of Mad Men.
  2. You like the '60s and the recipes from that era.
  3. You are planning on throwing a '60s-themed party.

RATING:
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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Any variety of whiskey made in Ireland will suffice, hence the name "Irish Coffee."
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Monday, December 17, 2012

Review: The Legend of Holly Claus by Brittney Ryan


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:

Santa Claus’s daughter sets out to break a curse and free a magical kingdom
Though few mortals know his secret, Nicholas is more than a jolly red-suited man who visits children all over the world on Christmas Eve—he is also the king of Forever, Land of the Immortals. Each year he gets letters from millions of boys and girls, and helps make their Christmas wishes come true. But one year, a special little boy from New York City asks something Nicholas has never been asked before: “What do you wish for Christmas, Santa?” With that simple question, a magical story unfolds. Nicholas answers that his only wish is for a child. And soon the immortal people of the kingdom celebrate the arrival of Holly Claus, the princess of Forever and the first child to grace its ground. But their happiness is dashed when an evil sorcerer places a spell on the infant, turning her heart to ice and freezing her kingdom in time. Many years later, just in time for Christmas Eve, Holly travels to New York, intent upon saving Christmas and freeing the land of Forever. Holly will make this the most magical—and memorable—Christmas the world has ever seen. This ebook features a note from Brittney Ryan including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the author’s personal collection.

MY TAKE:

Christmas books are usually formulaic so it's nice to find a book that has something new.

In The Legend of Holly Claus, Nicholas and his wife have a daughter Holly. However, Holly is put under a spell by Herrikhan and the kingdom of Forever is frozen with her.

I liked that there was a new spin on the Santa Claus legend. The first half of the story was a little bit boring to me since it reminded me of fairy tales such as Sleeping Beauty. The action picked up when Holly arrived in New York City. The scenes set in the toy shop where my favorites in the entire book. Holly's ability to create dream dolls was a nice touch too. The bad guy in the story is quite easy to identify, though, especially if you pay attention to the names of the characters.

As for the characters, my favorite characters are Holly's friends Empy, Tundra, Lexie and Euphemia. I also liked Mr. Carroll, but not as much as you don't get to learn as much about him. As for Holly, she was an okay character for me. Sometimes I liked her, but other times, she annoyed me, particularly when she would go against her instincts.

I really liked the illustrations and coloring for this book, though, especially since the old-school, Norman Rockwell-esque illustrations match the era of the story quite well.

Thanks to NetGalley and Open Road Young Readers for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's a refreshing change from the usual Christmas stories.
  2. There are interesting characters.
  3. The worldbuilding is great.

THE BAD:

  1. The ending is predictable and a little corny and romantic.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Another platter, with roasted meat laid in tempting slices under a savory sauce, and yet another piled high with delicate fruit, completed the meal.
READ IT IF:

  1. You're looking for a nostalgic Christmas read.
  2. You want to read a Christmas story to your kids wherein you can get a little romance too.
  3. You like new takes on old classics.

RATING:
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Sunday, December 16, 2012

In My Mailbox



In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

FROM NETGALLEY:


Kid in Chief by Paul Maguire, illustrated by Katy Betz
Food for a Fish: The Whopping Story of Jonah and the Whale by 
Kelly Pulley
Good News of Great Joy: The Amazing Story of Jesus' Birth by 
Kelly Pulley
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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Review: Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:

Anna remembers a time before boys, when she was little and everything made sense. When she and her mom were a family, just the two of them against the world. But now her mom is gone most of the time, chasing the next marriage, brining home the next stepfather. Anna is left on her own—until she discovers that she can make boys her family. From Desmond to Joey, Todd to Sam, Anna learns that if you give boys what they want, you can get what you need. But the price is high—the other kids make fun of her; the girls call her a slut. Anna's new friend, Toy, seems to have found a way around the loneliness, but Toy has her own secrets that even Anna can't know.
Then comes Sam. When Anna actually meets a boy who is more than just useful, whose family eats dinner together, laughs, and tells stories, the truth about love becomes clear. And she finally learns how it feels to have something to lose—and something to offer. Real, shocking, uplifting, and stunningly lyrical, Uses for Boys is a story of breaking down and growing up.

MY TAKE:

I found this book fascinating but also kind of unnerving.

In Uses for Boys, Anna turns to boys to fill the loneliness inside her. When she finally finds a boy who is practically perfect, everything feels perfect, until it isn't.

The first thing that surprised me about this book was the writing style. I expected a traditional YA narrative. Uses for Boys is still done in prose, but the style is very poetic and lyrical. I happen to like that style so it was  a pleasant surprise for me.

You really feel for Anna throughout the book. She's so broken and doesn't know any better because that life is all she's known. I was happy to see some growth in her midway through the book, although her promiscuity did put me off a bit.

This book is heavy on the sex and sexual activity, though, so if you aren't fond of things like that in your YA novel, especially if things that border on sexual abuse bother you, you might not like this book.

The book feels very real, though, and I think a lot of girls will see a little bit of themselves in Anna.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Griffin for the e-ARC. Publication date of Uses for Boys is on January 15, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. Anna is interesting.
  2. A lot of girls may be able to relate to Anna, if not because of her experiences, then because of her hopes.
  3. It can help girls stay hopeful.

THE BAD:

  1. The writing style may not work well for everyone.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
We each carry a dish to the dining room, mashed potatoes with bits of skin; a crusty steak cut in long strips, showing red in the middle; green beans with bell peppers, everything in rough heavy dishes.
READ IT IF:

  1. You like YA novels that are a little bit more adult.
  2. You like poetic writing styles.
  3. You like dark YA novels.

RATING:
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Friday, December 14, 2012

Review: Cozy Classics: Moby Dick by Holman Wang and Jack Wang


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Give a kid a classic! Cozy Classics is a new board book series presenting well-loved stories through 12 child-friendly words and 12 needle-felted illustrations. Moby Dick is a high seas adventure about one man’s quest to find the whale who took his leg, and one of the world’s most beloved classics. Now this classic can be shared with children of any age.
MY TAKE:

I was curious to see how Moby Dick could work as a board book for little kids.

In Cozy Classics: Moby Dick, the classic is told through illustrations and select words.

I was quite surprised to see just one word for each illustration. At first I thought that the first few pages were just a way for kids to identify the words which will be used in the actual story. As it turns out, the entire book is composed of just one word per page, with the illustration showing what that word is in relation to the Moby Dick story. Strangely enough, in just those few words and illustrations, you actually do get the main bits of the story. It's kind of like having flash cards but the flash cards tell a story.

The approach seems a little unusual, but it works. Younger kids will enjoy the illustrations and they'll get to learn new words too.

Thanks to NetGalley and Smith Publicity for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. The felt illustrations are very cute.
  2. The flashcard-style storytelling works.
  3. Kids will be able to understand the basics of Moby Dick.

THE BAD:

  1. You don't actually get to read the Moby Dick story.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
sailor
READ IT IF:

  1. Your child is too young to read children's books on his/her own.
  2. Your child has a short attention span.
  3. Your child likes felt or stuffed toys.

RATING:
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