So I try to regularly post my book reviews from Goodreads on my blog, as it is something I like to do and share. I started writing reviews for credit when I was in graduate school the second time around, and I enjoyed doing it so much I kept doing it even after I finished. I am currently reading the free book I was sent, which I mentioned 2 posts ago, and listening to the audiobook version of Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. If you are easily offended by fictional works on the Jesus story, this book is not for you. However, it is pretty hilarious, as are most of Christopher Moore’s books.
I’ve read/listened to eleven books since my last book review posting on February 22. Pretty good considering I have no time to read anymore. I break the reviews down according to categories, usually Children, Young Adult, and Adult. I rate them according to a 5 star scale, with 1 being hated it and 5 being loved it.
Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli by Barbara Jean Hicks
A rhyming picture book about monsters who don’t want to eat broccoli, but would rather eat boulders, tractors and wheels. These “monsters” are really kids in disguise who don’t want to eat their green veggies, but will eat “trees” instead. I love the big colorful illustrations of the silly monsters and the things that they like to eat; the end papers are also really cute. It would be a great book for storytime. Recommended for ages 2-5 yrs, 4 stars.
Best Baby Ever by David Milgrim
A cute baby book about what amazing things a young baby can do, as followed by his doting and over-excited parents. My favorite part is when the baby starts walking and finds a friend and the dad has run out after him in his underwear to get a picture of it. Recommended for ages 6 months – 5 years, 3 stars.
Daddy All Day Long by Francesca Rusackas
This book was a cute, but too sickly sweet for my taste, book about how much a daddy and son love each other as they spend the day together. Recommended for ages 6 months – 5 years, 2 stars.
Children and Young Adult
I’m Not Joey PIgza by Jack Gantos
I sweart that everytime I read or listen to one of the Joey Pigza books, they get crazier and crazier, and this one is no exception! Despite this, I think this book might be my favorite in the series, as I think Joey grows up a lot in this book and discovers a lot about himself and his family that he never thought of before.
In this book, Joey is visited by his dad Carter who tried to kidnap him and his dogs in the last book. Carter swears he is a changed man after winning the lottery, not the big jackpot, but quite a lot of money anyways. He has changed his outlook on life and even his name, which is now Charles Heinz. Fran, Joey’s mom, has secretly been dating Charles and now they want to get their vows renewed and change Joey’s name to Freddy. They move to a converted barn out in the country and have a beat up old diner that they want to redo and reopen as their own. For awhile things do work out for the new Heinz family, then things start to go pear-shaped slowly. Joey discovers that Freddy may not be the person that Joey really wants to be, and that their perfect life isn’t as perfect as it seems. Recommended for ages 9-12, 5 stars.
Alchemy and Maggy Swann by Karen Cushman
I picked this one up randomly while searching the children’s section for some audiobooks to listen to with “I’m not Joey Pigza”. I love Karen Cushman’s work, as she always has strong female leads, so I figured this one was worth a try (she did not disappoint). The book is set in Elizabethan times, when there is still a lot of superstition around and Alchemy was a mix of philosophy and several modern day sciences.
Meggy Swann is a 12 year old disabled girl who is summoned to London by the alchemist father she never knew. Because she is a girl and crippled, he does not believe that he has a use for her, but she soon proves herself useful. She befriends Roger, her father’s former assistant, who has now become a play actor. Meggy is blown away the first time that she sees her first play. She also befriends the Cooper (barrel-maker) and his young son Nicholas, and Mr. Merriman, the head of Roger’s play-acting company. Meggy overhears a conversation that she shouldn’t have, in which two men hire her father to create a poison that they will use to kill a Baron loyal to the Queen. She does not know what to do, and has to use her wits to solve the problem, which she does in a very clever way and is rewarded for her efforts. Recommended for ages 9-13, 5 stars.
The Sable Quean: A Tale From Redwall by Brian Jacques
I loved this book, although it made me sad that this was Brian Jacques last book. His audiobooks done with full cast and himself as narrator are always so much fun to listen to. I think that it is much easier to get through the books this way because he constantly keeps you entertained with all the different voices. My favorite characters/voices are still the moles, and this volume had a warrior mole named Axtel Sturnclaw!
The Sable Quean is the story of two young hares, Buck and Diggs, who are sent to Redwall Abbey by their badger lord. On the way, they meet up with the Witherspyk Acting Troupe, whose two babes are kidnapped. It turns out babes from all over Mossflower Wood are being abducted by the Sable Quean and her Ravagers, for an unknown reason. Come join Abbess Marjoram, the hares, Skipper, Axtel Sturnclaw, and the G.U.O.S.I.M. in this exciting Redwall Adventure! Recommended for ages 9-14, 5 stars.
Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation by Ray Bradbury
I had originally tried the audiobook version of this, but got too distracted to listen to it, so I figured the graphic novel version would work better (which it did). The book is set in the not-too-distant-future and is about fireman Guy Montag, whose job is to find all books and burn them and the houses that contain them down. He has been a fireman for years and always liked his job, until he is questioned by a young free-spirited girl named Clarissa, who opens up his eyes and makes him question everything. He ends up hoarding a book from a burning and reads it and soon he is devouring all the books he can get his hands on. His wife ends up betraying him and he has to burn down his own house, but ends up killing his boss and escaping with some books. He joins a group of intellectuals who have each memorized one book and when it is safe, they will write them all down. Recommended for ages 13+, 3 stars.
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
I picked up the audio version of this book because I couldn’t focus on the print version. I originally got the book as part of the Banned Book Club that I joined awhile back. For a look at the reason it was banned, check out this website: http://www.madamebovary.com/madame_bovary-controversy.htm Overall I enjoyed the book, especially the author’s beautiful descriptive language, however I did think he went off on many tangeants while writing the story and the ending is perhaps the most depressing of any book I’ve ever read.
The basic storyline is Emma marries Charles Bovary, an up-and-coming provincial doctor and for awhile she is happy. She gives birth to a baby girl, Berthe, and then she decides she is bored with her life and situation (despite the fact that for the 19th century, she is living pretty good). She has an affair with a landed gentleman named Rodolphe and then later by a young law clerk named Leon. While she is having the affairs, she borrows a ton of money and is unable to pay it back, so the law comes to collect her things. Her solution to all of this is to poison herself with arsenic, and dies a horrible painful death. Her very loving, but insanely clueless husband, doesn’t understand why she killed herself and is totally broken after her death. After a period of time, he stumbles upon her love letters to and from Rodolphe and Leon and then dies himself. Their daughter ends up in the poor house, working at a cotton mill. 3 stars.
The Food Matters Cookbook: 500 Revolutionary Recipes for Better Living by Mark Bittman
I love his Washington Post column, so I figured this cookbook would be worth a look. Bittman, like a lot of recent cookbook authors, encourages the reader to eat more fruit/veg/whole grains, and rely less on red meat and processed food. I think it is a great plan, though one that a lot of Americans may have a hard time adjusting to, simply because of the ease and simplicity that processed foods allow them. I loved that his recipes were easy and could be easily changed to add more ingredients. I will end up copying about 12 pages of recipes from the cookbook, including a Mashed Cannellini/Potatoes with Gorgonzola, homemade Whole Wheat Chapatis/Tortillas, and Noodles with Gingered Carrots and Miso. 5 stars.
Heavenly Fragrance: Cooking with Aromatic Asian Herbs, Fruits, Spices, and Seasonings by Carol Selva Rajah
This is a really well done cookbook, especially good for those who have not had much experience with shopping at Asian markets, that explains the culinary uses of Asian herbs, fruits, spices and seasoning. The author describes how she uses the different ingredients during her life and cooking experiences, which I always find helpful, at the beginning of each cookbook section. I also really liked that pretty much every recipe had a color photograph. Most of the recipes were a bit too involved for my taste, but I did bookmark dishes like Silken tofu with pork and shrimp, Cabbage sauteed with black mustard seeds, Black rice pudding with ginger coconut cream, and Pandanus coconut cake with palm sugar syrup. 4 stars.
Balancing Flavors East and West by Tim Kime
I did enjoy the author’s very thorough explanation of the Asian tastes of hot, sour, salty, sweet and bitter. He explains how to pair wine with spicy food, and has a photo for every other recipe and several to explain ingredients like the pomelo. I’d seen a lot of these type of recipes in other cookbooks, but I did enjoy his original recipes like Spicy plum chutney, Seviche of salmon with avocado, green chile, and pink grapefruit, Peppery leaf salad with almonds, pomegranates, and goat cheese, and how to smoke your own trout with aromatic spices. 3 stars.