Sunday, June 30, 2013

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:



One Hen How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway
The Good Garden How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough by Katie Smith Milway
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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Review: Mishan's Garden by James Vollbracht


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
In a village high above the clouds, where nobody’s happy and nothing grows, a little girl dreams of a garden flourishing behind her father’s house. Every day the cynical villagers watch and mock the little girl. But, watered with her kindness and patience, the garden eventually yields the most important fruit: the restored hope and happiness of the entire village. Perhaps the greatest gift you can ever give another is to hold them in the highest regard and to see what is best and unique about them. In Mishan’s Garden, a little girl sees all that is good and beautiful in the hearts of everyone around her and thereby transforms the lives of her entire village.
MY TAKE:
While there are plenty of books that have the same message as this one, this book still has something special.

In Mishan's Garden, Mishan is a young girl who is hopeful and sees the good in everyone. Through her words, she is able to make positive changes in her village.

Reading about how Mishan interacts with her neighbors and turns them from bad to good simply by highlighting what's good about them and how they make a difference in other people's lives.

Since the book is set during an older time, the dialogue is a little flowery and almost old-fashioned. It's still easy to see, though, what Mishan means. Not a lot of people can say Mishan said anyway. Sometimes it's easier to ignore them and not say anything at all. However, Mishan does the noble thing and makes her village a better place.

The illustration style was not necessarily to my taste, but I really liked the rendering. It looks a little bit like it was done using watercolor pencils. The shading is quite nice and makes the drawings more realistic.

Thanks to NetGalley and Wisdom Publications for the e-ARC. Publication date of Mishan's Garden is on October 15, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. The rendering is pretty.
  2. Mishan sets a good example for kids.
  3. The story has a good message.

THE BAD:

  1. The illustration style might not work for everyone.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
"Even the milk from their yaks tastes especially sweet!"
READ IT IF:

  1. You want to encourage your child to be kind to others.
  2. You believe in the power of kind words.
  3. You are looking for a book that has a positive message.

RATING:
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Friday, June 28, 2013

Review: The Moon is Broken! by Monique B. Martin


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
A simple lunar lesson belays a deeper message of acceptance and trust in The Moon is Broken!
Children learn in layers. Every
day they are building upon their primary foundations of understanding.  Monique B. Martin charmingly demonstrates how
children view, process and learn from the world around them in The Moon is Broken!, a rhyming story
written for children ages 3 to 8, yet easily relatable for children of all ages.
It explains why the moon appears to change shapes and exemplifies how all of God’s
creations are made with perfect purpose. The
Moon is Broken! e-book version is
also available in Spanish.


As the young girl in The Moon is Broken! looks out her window
before bed, she sees that the moon is a crescent, no longer a circle, and she
fears a piece has broken off. She looks for the piece of moon but can’t find it
and she wonders why God hasn’t noticed it is broken and fixed it. Is he sick?
Is he sleeping? Where is he? She runs to her mother, who explains the movement
of the moon around the earth and why it appears to change shape.


The Moon is Broken! teaches its small listeners and readers that appearances do not
tell the whole story.  The mother explains
the importance of trusting in God and his design.


Children with special needs,
infants, toddlers, preschoolers and elementary children all will enjoy and
learn from this sweet story that will leave them knowing, feeling, that they
are exactly as they are supposed to be. 

MY TAKE:
From the title alone, it's easy to see what this book is about.

In The Moon is Broken!, the little girl in the story is scared when she notices that the once full moon looks different.

For kids who haven't learned about the phases of the moon yet, the changes in the moon can be scary. I thought it was a nice touch to mention that God made all things and that these things are perfect just the way God made them.

The illustrations appear rendered on a computer program, which I wasn't really a fan of. Personally, I prefer children's books' illustrations to be whimsical or cartoonish, and the mediums to be colored pencils, watercolor paints, or really anything that has a lot of shades and gradations and doesn't look flat.

Thanks to NetGalley and Freret Media for the e-ARC. Publication date of The Moon is Broken! is on August 13, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. It can introduce kids to the phases of the moon.
  2. It reminds kids that God created everything.
  3. The child and her mother's relationship is sweet to read about.

THE BAD:

  1. The illustration style may not appeal to everyone.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
God made the trees
with their beautiful leaves,
and the pretty flowers
that feed the bees.

READ IT IF:

  1. You want to introduce your child to the phases of the moon.
  2. You believe that God created all things, and you want to remind your child of that.
  3. You are looking for books that have sweet mother-daughter bonding moments.

RATING:
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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review: Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story by Annie Tipton


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
True Story! . . . These pages from EJ Payne’s diary will have you ROTFL as you witness her spunky personality and well-meant-but-often-misunderstood antics. You’ll fall in love with this first release in the Diary of a Real Payne series as EJ records her thoughts and feelings about living in little old Spooner, Wisconsin (snooze!), eventually leaving her hometown to do big things when she’s all grown up (oh glorious day!), and having to star in the role of lead angel in the Vine Street Christmas pageant (are you kidding me?). This colossal-fun series is overflowing with humor and memorable life lessons.
MY TAKE:
There are a number of books out there written in diary-like form, so what makes this book different?

In Diary of a Real Payne, EJ gives us a peek into her life and adventures. The start of each chapter contains EJ's diary entry while the rest of the chapter tells the story of the adventure from a third-person point-of view.

At first, I thought that the entire book would be told in diary form, ala Bridget Jones' Diary. However, after a couple of chapters, the style started to grow on me. It made more sense anyway since it's unlikely that EJ would go into that much detail in her diary anyway.

EJ is an interesting character. She's funny, imaginative and not perfect. I don't know how realistic it is, though, that she would tend to lose awareness of her surroundings whenever she daydreams. I daydream a lot too, and the world does kind of fade out a bit, but I never act out my fantasies at the same time as my daydream, the way EJ does.

I did like that this chapter book has chapters that can stand alone. This way, parents can read the book a chapter at a time to their kids, or kids who are just learning to read can read a chapter a time.

Thanks to NetGalley and Barbour Books for the e-ARC. Publication date of Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story is on September 1, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. A lot of kids may find EJ easy to relate to.
  2. The stand-alone chapters make it a good choice for bedtime reading.
  3. EJ's adventures are interesting.

THE BAD:

  1. I'm not sure how likely it is that EJ could be acting out her daydreams in real time without being vaguely aware of her surroundings.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
The family sat around the table, a big, delicious-looking turkey on a platter, surrounded by sides: mashed potatoes, gravy, orange-cranberry Jell-O salad, homemade rolls, Mrs. Winkle's new casserole invention, and Mr. Johnson's addition of Pringles, arranged neatly on a serving plate.
READ IT IF:

  1. You like diary-type books.
  2. You are looking for chapter books for your child.
  3. You are looking for a bedtime book for your child.

RATING:
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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review: The Robin Takes 5 Cookbook for Busy Families Over 200 Recipes with 5 Ingredients or Less for Breakfasts, School Lunches, After-School Snacks, Family Dinners, and Desserts by Robin Miller


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Imagine your day like this: a nourishing breakfast; a gourmet lunch; creative afternoon snacks; a scrumptious family dinner; a decadent dessert. Dream no more: This can be your typical day because The Robin Takes 5 Cookbook for Busy Families boasts 200 recipes that are ready in a flash with 5 ingredients or less.
“Robin brings her real-life experiences to the page. Her book is not only full of her best busy-family recipes, but also tips and stories to remind us that we are not alone in trying to get a nutritious and delicious dinner on the table for a busy (and hungry!) family.”
—Melissa d’Arabian, host of Food Network’s Ten Dollar Dinners and author of Ten Dollar Dinners
“This book is loaded with fun, easy, kid-friendly recipes that can take the stress out of feeding your family well, and make it completely doable even when life is at its most hectic. Kudos to Robin for covering all the busy-family bases!”
—Ellie Krieger, RD, host of Food Network’s Healthy Appetite and author of Comfort Food Fix
You can’t create a truly useful cookbook for busy families unless you’re actually living the life. And Robin Miller lives the life! Her boys and husband keep her busy, plus Robin’s a chef, nutritionist, cookbook author, and TV personality. Like you, she faces mealtime dilemmas every day, from morning until night. Thankfully, Robin shares her secrets for creating delectable food in minimal time with few ingredients. How does this sound? Jump-start your day with Flapjacks with Cheddar and Bacon or Huevos Rancheros on English Muffins. Let the kids enjoy the Almond Coffee Cake while you pack Chicken Caesar Pita Pockets in their lunch boxes and spoon Lemony Sweet Pea Risotto or Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Corn and Cilantro into a container for you. Afternoon snacks are a breeze with Roasted Corn Guacamole with Baked Tortilla Chips or Warm Spinach Dip with Sundried Tomatoes and Pepper Jack. For dinner, wow the crowd with Toasted Tortellini with Bread Crumbs and Tomato Sauce, Turkey Meatball Sliders, or Cheddar Fondue with Shrimp and Apples. Think you don’t have time for dessert? There’s always time for White Chocolate Truffles with Raspberry Sauce and Crispy Sugared Wonton Ice Cream Sandwiches. The biggest secret of all? Each recipe has just 5 ingredients or less.
From morning until night, Robin’s got you covered with an assortment of family-friendly main dishes, snacks, side dishes, and desserts. You’ll soon discover that The Robin Takes 5 Cookbook for Busy Families is a book that will forever live on your kitchen counter.

MY TAKE:
The biggest reason why I don't cook as much is because I don't have a lot of time to cook and I find recipes with a lot of ingredients to be very complicated.

The Robin Takes 5 Cookbook for Busy Families features a lot of easy, simple recipes. Recipes are classified into: breakfast, lunch, after-school snacks, dinner, slow cooker meals, vegetable side dishes, and desserts.

I liked how the book was well-organized and easy-on-the-eyes. Recipes that are gluten-free are also easy to find thanks to a little symbol found on the recipe page. However, I think the feature that most moms would appreciate is the breakdown of the nutrients per serving of the recipe. There are only a few cookbooks that do this, and I'm sure moms would appreciate knowing how many milligrams or grams of sodium, fat, etc. are found in each serving.

I haven't tried any of the recipes yet, but I've already seen a number of recipes that I would like to try. For example, One-Egg Western Omelet, and Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Thanks to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the e-ARC. Publication date of The Robin Takes 5 Cookbook for Busy Families is on August 20, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. There's nutrition information for each recipe.
  2. The layout and design is simple but nice.
  3. There are a lot of recipes to choose from.

THE BAD:

  1. The list of recipes for each category only appears at the start of each chapter and not at the table of contents at the start.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Huevos rancheros is a classic Mexican dish that features fried eggs served on top of a tomato-chile sauce and lightly fried corn tortillas.
READ IT IF:

  1. You like recipes that have few ingredients.
  2. You are on the lookout for more gluten-free recipes.
  3. You like easy recipes.

RATING:
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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

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!
To develop a deeper flavor for this chowder, I added red bell pepper, bay leaves, and onion.
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Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: Rainbow Panda and the Firecracker Fiasco by Eileen Wacker


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Today most of the pandas are preparing for the New Year’s celebration. They are sweeping and cleaning, planting flowers and writing wishes on ribbons. But Rainbow Panda really wants to be a hero and has an explosive plan. Can Rainbow Panda convince others to join him? Will he become a hero or just get everyone in a lot of trouble? Rainbow Panda and the Firecracker Fiasco is the 6th book in the award-winning cross-cultural series Fujimini Adventure Series that invite readers to explore Fujimini Island with a cast of memorable characters who embark on unexpected and hilarious adventures.
MY TAKE:
Though this is the sixth book in the series, this is actually the first book I've read from the series.

In Rainbow Panda and the Firecracker Fiasco, Rainbow Panda wants to be a hero and beloved by the other inhabitants of Fujimini Island. He plans on doing this by using firecrackers to keep a Dynasty Dragon awake and showering the island with rain and ensuring luck throughout the year.

The story mostly revolves around firecracker safety. I don't know how many kids actually play with fireworks in the U.S., but here in the Philippines, there are usually a number of kids who get injured during the New Year's celebrations. Because of that, I feel like this book does teach an important and relevant lesson for kids, who tend to let their curiosity get the best of them.

As for the layout, the illustrations take up the top half of the page while the text stays in the lower half. I think it would be better if there was more variety to the layout to make it more interesting. The illustrations, on the other hand, were just okay for me.

Thanks to NetGalley and Bookmasters, Inc. for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. It teaches kids about firecracker safety.
  2. There's a glossary at the back that teaches kids about Asian culture.
  3. The Fujimini Island is filled with interesting characters.

THE BAD:

  1. The layout can be a little boring for some.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Dim sum comes in many forms like dumplings, buns, steamed rice, spring rolls, and sweets.
READ IT IF:

  1. Your kid likes fireworks.
  2. Your kid likes books featuring animal characters.
  3. You want to teach your child about firework safety. 

RATING:
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Sunday, June 23, 2013

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:



Rainbow Panda and the Firecracker Fiasco by Eileen Wacker
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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Review: The Pajamas of My Dreams by Laurie Collins


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Inspired by the Pajama Drive of children’s service agency Cradles to Crayons, librarian Laurie Collins and fine artist Margie Florini have created a soulful story illustrated in beautiful cut-paper collage that depicts children all tucked in their beds, wondering, “What will I be when I grow up?”
As the children drift off to sleep they ponder what their futures hold; they dream of becoming artists, professional hockey players, doctors or master chefs. Tomorrow’s bakers see cupcakes and confections sprinkled on the pajamas of their dreams, while budding entomologists envision ants and butterflies on theirs. This classic picture book also considers those who don’t have the luxury of such dreams—children’s whose wishes are simpler and more immediate.
At the heart of The Pajamas of My Dreams is the simple and endearing message that all children deserve to be safe and warm in their beds, and have the chance to reach their full potential.

MY TAKE:
What's a better bedtime children's book than one about kid's dreaming about their future professions?

In The Pajamas of My Dreams, we see the hopes and dreams of children as they drift to sleep. Each illustration/collage matches a verse on the previous page which details the child's ambitions.

The ambitions mentioned range from the usual, like doctor and writer, to the more unusual like entomologist and mathematician. This is a great idea since it opens up kids to the idea of careers that don't get a lot of attention. And if the kids' dream career is mentioned in the book, so much the better, as it will make the book relateable to them.

The cutout illustrations are charming. They're almost like decoupages, and I don't think I've ever seen a children's book that makes use of this style as well as this book did.

Some of the words used are a little complex for younger kids, so adults may need to explain them.
Thanks to NetGalley and Three Bean Press for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. The illustration/collages are interesting.
  2. The careers range from the common to the uncommon.
  3. The descriptions for each career are pretty vivid.

THE BAD:

  1. Some of the words may be too hard for younger kids.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
I am chopping a garden of vegetables - onions, peppers and tomatoes - to arrange and bake on my pizza pie.
READ IT IF:

  1. Your kid is starting to develop a fascination for a future career course.
  2. Your child wants to be a lot of things when he grows up.
  3. You like children's books with unusual illustration styles.

RATING:
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Friday, June 21, 2013

Review: Opera A to Z A Beginner's Guide to Opera by Liddy Lindsay


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Look no further than this book for a succinct yet thorough primer on the world's most famous operas! From Aida to Zauberflöte, this ABC of operas will inform music lovers of the storylines and characters in these beloved masterpieces. A book intended for young readers (ages 8-12), but sure to delight music lovers of all ages.
MY TAKE:
Most kids probably won't find the opera interesting, but kids and adults who like opera or are just starting to learn about the opera might find this book worth a read.

Opera A to Z contains the plot summaries and other details of select popular operas, such as Figaro and Carmen.

Of the operas mentioned in the book, I had heard about most of them but I wasn't too familiar with the plot. In that sense, the book was really useful for me because I was able to read the plot and ending of the different operas. From that, I can decide which opera to watch when I have the time.

There are also illustrations for each opera summary. The style is more abstract than what you would normally expect from a children's book, but the coloring made it work.

I found the book a little wordy for youngsters, though. The length of each entry and the language used was what you would expect from an encyclopedia or other reference book, so those who have short attention spans or aren't super interested in the opera might lose interest quickly.

Thanks to NetGalley and Pinwheel Books for the e-ARC. Publication date of Opera A to Z A Beginner's Guide to Opera is on June 30, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. It covers the most popular operas.
  2. You get to read the whole story of each opera.
  3. The illustrations are pretty.

THE BAD:

  1. Those who are only mildly interested in opera or have short attention spans may lose interest quickly.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
When many people think of opera, the habanera that Carmen dances is what comes to mind.
READ IT IF:

  1. You're a fan of opera.
  2. You want to introduce your child to opera.
  3. Your child is interested in learning more about the opera.

RATING:
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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Review: Demigods and Monsters Your Favorite Authors on Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series Edited by Rick Riordan


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Released just before the March 2013 feature film Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, this new edition is updated through The Last Olympian, and includes several brand new essays!
The #1 New York Times bestselling Percy Jackson series—The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian—features a dyslexic boy who discovers he is the son of a Greek god, the target of mythical Greek monsters, and the center of a prophecy that could change the balance of power in the world forever. In Demigods and Monsters, YA authors take on the series' Greek gods, demigods, monsters, and prophecy, to add insight and even more fun to Riordan’s page-turner series.
The book also includes an introduction by Percy Jackson series author Rick Riordan that gives further insight into the series and its creation, and a glossary of ancient Greek myth, with plenty of information on the places, monsters, gods, and heroes that appear in the series.

MY TAKE:
I'm a huge fan of the Percy Jackson books, so I really wanted to read this book.

In Demigods and Monsters, we are presented with several essays about the gods mentioned in the series.

Some of the essays were written as though they were meant for demigods, but most of the books were meant for the common reader. As the book is a collection of essays, not all of the writing styles will work for everyone. However, for the most part, the essays are written humorously or contain enough information and references to the book to not be boring.

As a fan, it was a great way for me to delve deeper into Percy's world and see relationships and history that I might not have noticed or given much thought to otherwise.

Thanks to NetGalley and Smart Pop Books for the e-ARC. Publication date of Demigods and Monsters is on July 2, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. You get to learn more about Percy Jackson's world.
  2. You learn more about the Greek gods.
  3. The essays are interesting.

THE BAD:

  1. Some essays may get boring for some.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
The stores multiply like Hydra heads, but whether their success actually comes at the expense of their human customers - the modern equivalent of the stolen sheep or maiden - remains to be seen.
READ IT IF:

  1. You are a fan of the Percy Jackson series.
  2. You want to learn more about Greek gods.
  3. You want to delve deeper into Percy Jackson's world.

RATING:
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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review: The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home by Nick Zukin, Michael Zusman


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
For Jewish deli devotees and DIY food fanatics alike, The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home is a must-have collection of over 100 recipes for creating timeless deli classics, modern twists on old ideas and innovations to shock your Old Country elders. Photographs, historical tidbits, reminiscences, and reference material round out the book, adding lively cultural context.
Finally, fifty years after I started eating pastrami sandwiches and knishes at Wilshire’s Deli in Cedarhurst, Long Island, Nick Zukin and Michael C. Zusman have written a cookbook that allows delicatessen enthusiasts to make their favorite deli dishes at home. Making your own knishes? No problem. Rustle up your own pickles? Bring it on. Michael and Nick manage to make deli food simultaneously contemporary and timeless, which is no easy feat. If reading The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home doesn’t make you hungry, you’ve never rhapsodized over a pastrami sandwich or driven a hundred miles for a transcendent plate of latkes. If my grandmother, the greatest Jewish deli–style cook I’ve ever known, were alive she’d be kvelling over this book.”
—Ed Levine, founder of Seriouseats.com
“Michael and Nick’s handsome book brings some of your favorite deli recipes and memories into your home kitchen. Their pickles, knishes, and pastrami are just like you remember, only better!”
—Joan Nathan, author of Jewish Cooking in America
“Before you open this book, be sure to crack a window, because your house will soon reek of the glorious funk of delicatessen. The mouthwatering scent of baking bagels, bubbling soups, and steaming pickled meats will conquer every square inch of available air, bathing it all in a rich, delicious patina of schmaltz. Don’t be surprised if a sarcastic waiter named Abe appears in your kitchen. The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home will turn any house into a delicatessen worth its weight in knishes.”
—David Sax, author of Save the Deli
If you don’t happen to live near one of the new wave of artisan-style Jewish delis that have sprung up around North America over the last few years, not to worry. With this book, the world of Jewish deli, in all its unsubtle splendor—can be yours in the comfort (and privacy) of your own kitchen. And it’s not that hard. Really. On top of all the Jewish deli classics, The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home offers updates and new angles on the oldways that are bound to thrill the palates of a modern generation of eaters focused on quality ingredients and a lighter-handed approach to a traditionally heavy cuisine.
The chapters are organized into:  Starters and Sides; Soups and Salads; Eggs, Fish, and Dairy; Beef; Bagels, Bialys, and Breads; and Pastries, Desserts, and Drinks. The range of favorite recipes include: Crispy Potato Latkes with Chunky Ginger Applesauce; Summer Chicken Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumber and Cracklings; Wise Sons’ Chocolate Babka French Toast; Home Oven Pastrami; and Celery Soda.
Added cultural context comes from quick-hitting interviews with Joan Nathan and other Jewish food luminaries; histories of a few deli stalwarts such as bagels and pastrami; and first-hand reports from within the walls of the authors’ favorite temples of modern Jewish gastronomy located across the country including: Mile End Delicatessen in New York City; Wise Sons Delicatessen in San Francisco; Kenny & Zuke's Delicatessen in Portland, OR; Stopsky's Delicatessan in Mercer Island, Washington; and Caplansky's Delicatessen in Toronto.

MY TAKE:
There aren't a lot of opportunities for me to try Jewish food here in the Philippines, so I thought I'd give this a read to see if I could duplicate some at home.

In The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home, we get to see different recipes, as well as interviews with experts in Jewish food/cooking.

There were lots of interesting recipes here with ingredients that should be easy to find in most supermarkets. Some, though, look like they would need a lot of effort or time to finish.

Those who don't have access to ingredients, such as kosher salt, may also have to improvise with some of the recipes. Taste-wise, though, it shouldn't be a problem.

I appreciated that there were different types of recipes to choose from. This way, it's easier to find recipes you might like, based on what your needs or cravings are.

Thanks to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the e-ARC. Publication date is on September 3, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. You get to recreate Jewish delicatessen favorites in your home.
  2. There are interesting interviews.
  3. The dishes look mouthwatering.

THE BAD:

  1. Some ingredients may not be easily available to everyone.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
This is a classic sweet kugel recipe, with raisins, cinnamon, and sugar joining the noodles and customary ensemble of dairy ingredients.
READ IT IF:

  1. You like to visit Jewish delicatessens.
  2. You like trying new recipes.
  3. You want to make kugel and other such recipes at home.

RATING:
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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

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!
You can't make a great chicken soup without a flavor-charged chicken broth.
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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Review: Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Fantastically funny, fresh and utterly relatable, Brooklyn Girls is a charming debut by Gemma Burgess & the first novel in her brand new series about five twenty-something friends discovering the ups and downs and ins and outs of  their “semi-adult” lives.
Pia, Angie, Julia, Coco and Madeleine share a brownstone in hip, downtown Brooklyn and this first novel in the series focuses on sophisticated, spoiled, and stylish Pia, who finds herself completely unemployed, unemployable, and broke. So what is a recent grad with an art history degree and an unfortunate history of Facebook topless photos to do? Start a food truck business of course! Pia takes on the surprisingly cutthroat Brooklyn world of hybrid lettuce growers, artisanal yogurt makers and homemade butter producers to start SkinnyWheels—all while dealing with hipster bees, one-night-stands, heartbreak, parental fury, wild parties, revenge, jail, loan sharks, playboys, karaoke, true love, and one adorable pink food truck. And that's without counting her roommates' problems, too. Gemma Burgess has captured the confusion, hilarity and excitement of the post-graduate years against a backdrop of the pressures and chaos of New York City life, with heartfelt empathy, fast humor and sharp honesty.

MY TAKE:
This book sounded like it had a lot of the elements I look for in  a chicklit and young adult book.

In Brooklyn Girls, we meet five girls who are navigating adult life in New York. This book focuses on Pia who loses her PR job and must now come up with a way to make some money or her parents will force her to leave her beloved New York.

While the plot isn't exactly unexpected, I did enjoy the book anyway. The girls are fun, interesting and, for the most part, relate-able. The relationships between the girls is more sisterly than my experience with my roommates in college, but then again, perhaps their relationships are better matched than ours were.

There were times when I was angry at Pia because she was immature, selfish and naive. However, oddly enough, I still cheered her on when she achieved success. Her success isn't exactly realistic, of course, but there have been lots of people who have achieved a lot of success from a simple idea.

I wasn't really into Pia's love interest, though. I felt like he was the most cliche character in the book and I didn't feel any sort of interest or connection with his character. I liked the other girls, though. There was something about each of the other girls that I could relate to. I think I'm most like Julia, but I thought Coco was very cute and I would like to learn more about her. It's a good thing this is a series. I really would like to learn more about the other girls of Rookhaven.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Griffin for the e-ARC. Publication date of Brooklyn Girls is on July 2, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. The girls are fun and interesting.
  2. You really feel like you're in New York City with the girls.
  3. There's a lot of potential in the series.

THE BAD:

  1. The main love interest feels a little bit cliche and out of place with the rest of the book.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
We sit at a tiny table in the corner, and little taster plates start arriving: courgette fries, eggplant rollatini, garlic knots, buffalo mozzarella salad, chicken romano, spaghetti carbonara, baked ziti, linguine in white clam sauce, tiny pizzas of every variety.
READ IT IF:

  1. You like reading books set in New York City.
  2. You like Sex and the City.
  3. You like books about groups of girls.

RATING:
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Sunday, June 16, 2013

In My Mailbox


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

FROM NETGALLEY:



Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess
The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home by Nick Zukin, Michael Zusman
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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Review: The Man of Steel: Superman vs. the Doomsday Army by Laurie S. Sutton


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Thousands of aliens have targeted Earth. The MAN OF STEEL battles them in back into orbit, and opens the armor of one of the soldiers. Inside is DOOMSDAY! Superman breaks open more armor. All the soldiers are DOOMSDAY clones — thousands and thousands of clones! One Doomsday is bad enough, but now there are infinite Doomsdays!
From DC SUPER HEROES: THE MAN OF STEEL chapter book series. For ages 8-12.
*Over 600,000 copies sold in the DC SUPER HEROES series
About the Author:
Laurie Sutton has read comics since she was a kid. She grew up to become an editor for Marvel, DC Comics, Starblaze, and Tekno Comics. She has written Adam Strange for DC, Star Trek: Voyager for Marvel, plus Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Witch Hunter for Malibu Comics. There are long boxes of comics in her closet where there should be clothing and shoes. Laurie has lived all over the world, and currently resides in Florida.

MY TAKE:
It's hard to find good books for young boys, but a book featuring a comic book hero sounds like a recipe for success.

In The Man of Steel: Superman vs. the Doomsday Army, an alien race tries to invade Earth but Superman will not let them. Superman gets a nasty surprise, though, when he finds out what the alien race's soldiers actually are and how they came to be.

Pretty much the whole time I was reading this, I got the feeling like I was watching an action movie. I'd say it was comic book-like, but I usually only got that vibe when I saw the illustrations. The prose felt like it was moving at a faster clip than when you're reading a comic book.

The good thing about the book is that kids don't need to have read the comic books to understand the story. The book gives the necessary details they need to understand who is who and their relationship with each other. I'd say this is a pretty good introductory book for kids who are curious about Superman or who prefer chapter books to comic books.

Thanks to NetGalley and Stone Arch Books for the e-ARC. Publication date of The Man of Steel: Superman vs. the Doomsday Army is on August 1, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. You don't need to have read the comic books to understand the story.
  2. The story has a good message.
  3. It's a fast-paced book.

THE BAD:

  1. The lead up to the action-packed part may be boring to some.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
The creature had the same powers as Superman.
READ IT IF:

  1. Your kid likes Superman.
  2. You want your comic-book-addicted kid to read more chapter books.
  3. Your kid likes action-packed stories.

RATING:
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Friday, June 14, 2013

Review: The Alphabet Parade by Charls Ghigna


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Iguanas, pandas, tigers too its a letter parade just for you!
From the Learning Parade series. For ages 1-3. Board books.
Author Charles Ghigna, also known as Father Goose, charms with lyrical rhyming text that is engaging and fun for even the youngest readers! This series helps preschoolers learn the basics: letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. Bright and delightful illustrations make the concepts come alive.
*Board books teach basic concepts in a fun, lighthearted way
*Well-known author Charles Ghigna
About the Author:
Charles Ghigna, known as Father Goose, is the author of more than 50 award-winning books from many other publishers. His books have been featured on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” PBS, and NPR. He is a poet,
children’s author, speaker, and nationally syndicated feature writer who promotes the love of poetry and children’s literature throughout the world.
About the Illustrator:
Ag Jatkowska has been drawing and playing with color ever since she can remember. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk (Poland) with a MA in Graphic Design and Illustration. Ag now works as a full-time illustrator and has been dealing with illustration, graphic design, greeting cards, stationery, and photography.

MY TAKE:
There are lots of alphabet books out there, so what makes this book different?

In The Alphabet Parade, each letter represents a member of the circus whose name starts with that letter.

I thought the idea of a circus parade was cute. Of course, there were some instances wherein the animal that represented a letter wouldn't exactly be seen in your typical serious. However, there's only so much you words you can use per letter that fits the theme, so it's understandable.

The illustrations and layout were charming, and reminded me a little bit of those cards that you'd send for kids on their birthday.

Thanks to NetGalley and Picture Window Books for the e-ARC. Publication date of The Alphabet Parade is on September 2, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's a great way to introduce kids to different animals.
  2. The illustrations are charming.
  3. The parade concept works for the circus theme.

THE BAD:

  1. The illustration style might not work for everyone.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
K is for the KINKAJOU who ties his tail in knots.
READ IT IF:

  1. Your child likes the circus.
  2. You want to teach your child about different animals.
  3. You're teaching your child about the alphabet.

RATING:
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Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Review: Peek-a-Boo Monsters by Charles Reasoner


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Monsters hide throughout this die-cut book from Charles Reasoner. As you read the simple verse, small windows give you a peek at the creatures on the next page. Each spread reveals more adorable monsters!
From the Charles Reasoner Peek-a-Book Books series. For ages 1-3.
*Topics are great for Halloween promotions: monsters, ghosts, pirates, dinosaurs, and fairies are all popular costumes
*Die-cut windows allow the reader to see a little bit more of each scene as they flip the pages
About the Author:
Charles Reasoner has been creating and illustrating best-selling children’s books for nearly 30 years. Chuck’s
imaginative and fun-filled illustrations are colorful evidence of his belief that reading stimulates a child’s future creativity.

MY TAKE:
I appreciate books that get creative with their layout and presentation.

In Peek-a-Boo Monsters, we meet different monsters and get peeks at the next monsters via small windows on the current page.

Because I only had an e-copy of the book, some of the magic and effect was lost since I could only see a white background on the part that was cut out and I could only guess which part of the next monster was visible on the next page.

The monsters were cute, although I don't think they'd be a perfect fit for the Monsters, Inc. universe. The book is very colorful and the coloring matches the cartoon-ish style used for the illustrations.

Thanks to NetGalley and Picture Window Books for the e-ARC. Publication date of Peek-a-Boo Monsters is on August 1, 2013.

THE GOOD:

  1. The layout is creative.
  2. The monsters are cute.
  3. The rhymes used to introduce the monsters actually work well.

THE BAD:

  1. The illustrations might not appeal to all kids.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Peek-a-boo
MONSTERS,
BIG and small...

READ IT IF:

  1. Your child likes monsters.
  2. Your child likes books that have cut-out windows.
  3. Your child likes rhymes.

RATING:
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SOUNDS INTERESTING?


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