So I finally have some yarn so I can start on a new craft project, which is just in time for my Crafty Book Club meeting this Thursday. I’m making a scarf or a hat, just haven’t decided which pattern I’m gonna use yet. There are a few to choose from, like this wavy scarf, this basket-stitch one, or this hat. The yarn is a really nice dark teal color and I’m thinking about maybe sending it to a friend of mine, if it’s not totally screwed up at the end of it. My last scarf was pretty uneven because I hadn’t done any crocheting in over a year, and that one was finished something like 6 months ago. Thankfully, a lot of the women at the Book Club crochet so I could probably ask if I have any questions. I’ve been on a roll reading, due to trying to finish up the baby’s summer reading and being really bored because of my lack of employment. But good news on that front, I have an interview next week, so fingers crossed that I get it!

I am currently reading a volume of Steampunk short-stories, but I know that will get put on the sidelines when I can get to the library to get Cassandra Clare’s newest YA book City of Lost Souls. On to the book reviews. As usual, I rate everything from 1-5 stars, one being the lowest and 5 the highest.

Children

 The Monster Returns by Peter McCarty

I enjoyed this sequel to Jeremy Draws a Monster better than the original. Jeremy gets a call from his monster, the one he sent away in the first book, saying that he’s bored and he’s coming back home. So Jeremy calls up the kids on the street and gives them magic pens to draw their own monster with, so the monster has some friends to play with. Jeremy also gains some friends. Love the illustrations. Recommended for ages 1-7, 4 stars.

Hey Rabbit! by Sergio Ruzzier

This was another summer reading selection for my son, though he couldn’t really focus on this one because it was a half-wordless book. Rabbit has a magic suitcase that gives his friends Dog, Toucan, Bear, Cat, Mouse, and Crab whatever they are asking for, but Rabbit wonders if it has enough for him too. It does, it is full of his friends and a giant radish for Rabbit. The repetitiveness got boring after the second time, but I liked the imagination of the book. Recommended for ages 3-7, 3 stars.

Happy Hector: A Tilly and Friends Book by Polly Dunbar

This is another book I got for my son’s summer reading program, which he enjoyed as did I. It is a cute and simple book about Hector the pig, who is perfectly happy sitting on his friend Tilly’s lap. That is, until all the other animals that live in Tilly’s house all decide that they want to do the same thing. Hector is now upset because he didn’t want to play with the other animals, he just wanted Tilly, so she paints a picture of Hector. He loves it and then gets to sit in Tilly’s lap again, which makes him even more happy than before. Loved the illustrations. Recommended for ages 1-5, 5 stars.

Remembering Crystal by Sebastian Loth

I originally picked this up for my son because of the adorable illustrations, but he couldn’t pay attention. So I read it. It is a neat and sympathetic way to prevent death to a child. Zelda the goose is friends with Crystal the Turtle. Zelda is very young, while Crystal is much older. One day, Crystal is not there anymore and Zelda searches everywhere for her, but cannot find her. She has passed away, but Zelda remembers all the great things that Crystal taught her and all the fun they had together. Recommended for ages 3-7, 4 stars.

Clarence and the Great Surprise by Jean Ekman Adams

Clarence the pig and his friend Smoky the purple horse are going on a trip together to see a great surprise. On the way they meet an old dog who doesn’t hear very well but can dance and has a tiny hat. Clarence experiences all kinds of new things for a city pig, but none of them is the surprise Smoky has planned for him. Until they reach the Grand Canyon and both Clarence and Smoky are blown away by the grandness (no pun intended) of it. I liked that it was a Smithsonian Notable Book, and the author lives near Phoenix. The illustrations were bright and colorful, which kept the attention of my 11 month old even though the story was a little long. I got this for his summer reading. Recommended for kids age 1-7, 4 stars.

Gideon and Otto by Olivier Dunrea

Absolutely adorable story about a russet colored goose named Gideon and his stuffed octopus, Otto. One day Gideon goes off to play with some bunnies and leaves Otto on a stump. When Mama Goose calls for Gideon to come home, he goes to find Otto, but he is not there. He looks everywhere for him and eventually find him on the back of a turtle. Gideon and Otto are together again. I picked this one up for my son’s summer reading and he loved it. Recommended for ages 1-4, 3 stars.

Ollie the Stomper by Olivier Dunrea

This was the last book I read to my son for summer reading (yay he’s finished 20 books!). Ollie the gosling wants to go stomping with Gossie and Gertie, who have boots to do this with. So they each give him one boot and they got stomping together, until he gets bored with it and they decide to go swimming instead. My son enjoyed the story and illustrations. Recommended for ages 1-4, 3 stars.

Doodle Bites: A Tilly and Friends Book by Polly Dunbar

This book had a cute story, though not as good as the “Happy Hector” book I previously read. Doodle is a alligator who just feels like she needs to nibble, crunch, and bite things. All is well until she decides to bite Tumpty the elephant’s behind, and then in his anger, he steps on her tail. Tilly and Pru the chicken sort everything out and everyone apologizes and is happy again. Love the illustrations. Recommended for ages 1-5, 3 stars.

Little Quack’s New Friend by Lauren Thompson

I picked this up at the library after I bought “Little Quack’s Hide & Seek” and my son really liked it. This book is about Little Ribbit, Little Quack’s new frog friend. At first, Little Quack’s siblings don’t like him because he is green, little, a frog and doesn’t quack. But as the day wears on, they realize that it is okay for him to be different, when they have one thing in common – they all like to play. My son loved the illustrations and “sound effects” in the book. Recommended for ages 1-5, 4 stars.

The Loud Book by Deborah Underwood

I’ve been waiting forever to read this book, after I fell in love with “The Quiet Book”. The Loud Book is just as great with it’s different kinds of loud, from Deafening Silence Loud to Fireworks Loud. I love the illustrations as well. My son enjoyed the book, especially when I made sound effects for him. Recommended for ages 1-5, 5 stars.

Time to Eat by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

I picked this up for my son as I thought it might be a simpler nonfiction Steve Jenkins book that he could listen to now. I had previously gotten the book “Actual Size” but it’s a bit too advanced for him. Sadly, there is still a lot of text in it, and I would say he would need to wait about 4 yrs before he could really enjoy it and have the attention span to sit down and read it. It is a cute book with Jenkins’ trademark cut-paper illustrations, which I love so much. It tells little stories about each animal/bird/insect and what they eat. The book also has a more detailed description in the back of the book of each creature. Great book for boys ages 5-9, 3 stars.

Time to Sleep by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Another book I picked up for my son that was a little too advanced for him at the moment. Again love the illustrations and the facts and descriptions about the animals/amphibians/birds/fish are better I think than “Time to Eat”. For example, giraffes sleep less than two hours and a group of giraffes is called a corps or tower. The wood frog hibernates by freezing solid and thawing in the spring. Or that bottlenose dolphins “keep one half of their brain awake and one half asleep. The awake half tells the dolphin when to go up to breath, and the two halves take turns sleeping.” I like fun factual information like that. Recommended for ages 5-9, 4 stars.

Caldecott Challenge

All the World by Elizabeth Garton Scanlon

This book won a 2010 Caldecott Honor, and deservedly so as it is a well-done and beautiful book. While my son wasn’t that interested in the poem or the illustrations, I loved them, especially the soft gorgeous colored pencil and watercolor designs. The poem is about how all the world is in all of us and everywhere. As another reviewer has put it, I liked how the setup for the next group of images was in the 2 page spreads. My two favorite images was the one of the giant tree overlooking the Spanish Colonial-style building with the kids climbing in it, and the last double page spread with the words “Hope and peace and love and trust” under a lightning and gradually darkening sky. It is hard to beat a Jerry Pinkney book for the Caldecott Medal, but this book comes a very close second. Recommended for ages 1-7, 5 stars.

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

I picked this up because it was a 2011 Caldecott honor book and it’s been on my to-read list for a while, plus a lot of people have been raving about it. It is a very cute and funny story about a father chicken trying to read bedtime stories to his “interrupting chicken” daughter, who can’t help but give her opinion in the fairy and folk tales he reads her. In the end, it is Papa Chicken who falls asleep and not his daughter. This book cracked me up because my son totally does this, although he interrupts by dropping his bottle repeatedly while I’m trying to read him stories. Highly recommended for ages 1-7. 5 stars

Ella Sarah Gets Dressed by Margaret Chodos-Irvine

I picked this one up because it won a Caldecott Honor in 2004, but I think the selection must’ve been slim that year for it to have won. The whole story is about a girl wearing a kooky collection of clothes because she and her friends are getting together for a dress-up tea time. Other than the brightly colored illustrations and the tea time at the end, this book didn’t have much going for it. Recommended for kids aged 1-5, 2 stars.

Children and Young Adult

A Hero for Wondla (Wondla, #2) by Tony DiTerlizzi

I loved the last book, “The Search for Wondla” and honestly thought he couldn’t do any better. The author proved me wrong by creating an even more spectacular book in which I saw the main character, Eva Nine, grow in ways I didn’t think possible. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!

This book starts off where the last left off. Eva Nine and Rovender (Rovee for short) are going with Hailey to New Attica, the current home of humans on Orbona/Earth. She is excited at the prospect of meeting others like her. Once Eva Nine enters the city, she is greeting enthusiastically by Cadmus Pryde, who founded New Attica and is the reason for her creation (babies raised by robots in separate facilities called Sanctuaries). At first things seem great, she meets some girls her age and they show her around the town. But as the day wears on, she starts to feel uneasy. The humans seem in the dark about everything outside of the city, thinking they are the only inhabitants. Eva Nine meets another “reboot” named Eva Eight and finds out they are from the same Sanctuary. Eight tries to escape with Eva Nine, but they get caught by Cadmus’s henchmen. It is during her captivity that she finds out the truth behind what Cadmus has been doing and manages to rescue some friends, new and old. Hailey, Rovee, Eva Eight and Nine and some others manage to escape back into the Wandering Forest. Will they find the Vitae Virus generator before Cadmus? Will Rovee ever be united with his clan? To find this and what really lurks at the Heart of the Wandering Forest, read this fantastic book. I know this review may not do this book justice, but it is a great read and has fabulous illustrations. Recommended for ages 10 and up, 5 stars.

Adult

Timeless (The Parasol Protectorate #5) by Gail Carriger

I would just like to say that I am very sad that this is the last book of the Parasol Protectorate series. Alexia, Lord Akeldama, Biffy and Professor Lyall are so fantastically done in this book. The story is that it is about 2 years since the end of “Heartless,” and a lot of things have happened. Felicity was exiled to Europe, Biffy has settled into being a werewolf and taken over Madame Lefoux’s hat shop, and Alexia and Conall are living in Lord Akeldama’s second closet secretly raising their metanatural daughter Prudence and discovering all her powers and their restraints. Life seems relatively normal, by Alexia’s standards anyways, when suddenly the Beta of the Scottish pack has disappeared in Egypt and then been mysteriously killed. Then Alexia and Prudence are summoned to the local vampire queen’s hive to get a summons from the most ancient of all vampires, the Alexandrian Queen. As the Maccons are patrons to Ivy & Tunstell’s acting company, they use them as a cover to go to Egypt to meet the Queen. Madame Lefoux, who has been indentured to London’s local queen vampire goes on the trip, but Alexia is never quite sure where her allegiances lie. They discover that Egypt has an outbreak of the God-Breaker Plague, which makes supernaturals mortal. Meanwhile trouble is brewing at home between Lady Kingair of the Scottish pack, Professor Lyall and Biffy. What will they find out about the plague and who has started it? What secrets will be revealed? Will everyone survive? To find out, read this great final book to the Parasol Protectorate series!

I will say that overall I really enjoyed the book, although the ending was a bit disappointing. The relationship between Biffy and Lyall was a surprise, but I was glad that they both finally found someone. I’m very excited at the prospect of the series continuing sort of, with a grown up version of Prudence in “The Parasol Protectorate Abroad” series. 4 stars.

Parents Need to Eat Too: Nap-Friendly Recipes, One-Handed Meals, and Time-Saving Kitchen Tricks for New Parents by Debbie Koenig

I’ve been waiting forever to get a copy of this from the library and it was finally available a few days ago. I really enjoyed the recipes, but I will say that I would not be cooking them with a baby strapped to me. I guess that would work if your baby wasn’t over 8 pounds at birth. Aside from that, I thought the recipes, especially the slow-cooker and big batch ones looked particularly good. If I ever decide to have another child, the galactagogue recipes are definitely the ones to use (foods that help you produce breast milk, like oatmeal, barley, fennel, buckwheat and almonds). I liked the author because she was 40 when she got pregnant and I could relate to her stories, especially the ones about breastfeeding. Some of the recipes I enjoyed included Balsamic Beef Stew, Korean Beef Stew, Sfiha (Middle Eastern Meat Pies), Amy’s Slow-Cooker Thai Brisket, Little Gram’s Sauce (which is apparently the best pasta sauce ever), and A Greekish Orzo-Tomato Salad. 5 stars.

Vintage Tea Party by Carolyn Caldicott

I picked this up because I love tea services and I figured there might be some cool recipes in here. Most of them were pretty typical, and the advice was pretty common sense (like mixing and matching tea cups and servers, what other equipment to get etc). I did like the history of the tea service and how tea came to England and became a popular drink. They also explained the kinds of tea times, and I had no idea there were tea + alcoholic drinks. 2 1/2 stars.

Lethal Legacy (Alexandra Cooper #11) by Linda Fairstein

I was very impressed by this book, especially as I had never read anything by the author before. She was very thorough on researching the New York Public Library and getting all her facts straight, and showing her love for librarians. All this is mentioned in her acknowledgement section in the back of the book. She is obviously a great supporter of librarians and libraries. So she gets kudos for that.

The story is about Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cooper and this is Ms. Fairstein’s 11th book featuring her (thankfully this is a stand-alone story, so you don’t have to have read the previous 10). Ms. Cooper is a part of the Sex Crimes Unit (as was the author in real life), and she is called to investigate Tina Barr, a woman that was attacked and left naked, though nothing seemed to have been taken and the woman wasn’t hurt, just knocked out with chloroform. She is taken to the hospital but decides not to give a statement and instead just runs away, and isn’t until the following week, when a dead woman is found in Tina’s apartment that the police begin to suspect something is going on. Tina is a conservator who used to work at New York Public Library, but is now a freelancer working for some of the Library Board’s trustees. Well she was until she also mysteriously shows up dead in Bryant Park, and the police and Alex are now trying to solve just what she was involved in. All they know is it centers around some rare books and an even rarer map from 1507. Will they figure out who was behind the killings? Will they find the map? To find out read this most excellent mystery. 5 stars.

The Cake Mix Doctor Returns! by Anne Byrn

I had heard of the Cake Doctor from a friend of mine, who swears by her cake recipes. So I decided to give her newer basic cookbook a try. I will say that she does know what she is doing as most of the recipes seem relatively simple and fun to make. I like that she doesn’t just do layer cakes, but also poundcakes, bundt cakes, brownies, bars, cookies, cupcakes, and frosting. I’ve been looking for a cake to do at my son’s birthday party and I think I may have found it in the Lemonade Chiffon Layer Cake with Raspberry Filling, though I am considering switching the filling to a blueberry one as the theme is Rubber Duckies (blue and yellow). Either way, I’m sure it will be delicious. It is a little annoying that the only color pictures are in an index in the front, instead of with the recipes themselves. I like that she includes lots of tips and tricks to help the reader. I’ve never made a layer cake, so any tips I can get are helpful. I am hoping to make Easy Coconut Refrigerator Cake for my grandfather as it is his favorite, but would also like to try the Kentucky Blackberry Jam Cake, Apple Butter Spice Cake, Caramel Tres Leches Cake, Music to my Mouth Brownies (with Symphony Chocolate Bars inside), and many more. 5 stars.

Preacher, Vol. 1: Gone to Texas by Garth Ennis

Do not read this if you offended by bad language, graphic violence or are a conservative/fundamentalist Christian! That being said, I enjoyed the hell out of this first volume (the first seven comics) in the Preacher series. I was recommended to read this by an old friend of mine and I’ve been unable to find it in a library until now. This is the basic gyst of the story. An angel and a demon fell in love and had a kid named Genesis that God didn’t know what to do with, so he threw his hands up and left Heaven. Genesis wants a soul and escapes to earth, where he goes into Rev Jesse Custer and accidently annihilates a whole congregation of people at church on Sunday. The angels realize that Genesis has escaped and call this ruthless dead guy called the Saint of Killers to go after Genesis and kill him. This starts Jesse’s bad luck, he realizes the true story behind Genesis and orders an angel down to explain things properly (side power that Jesse gets is the Word of God that can basically order people around and do what he wants). So Jesse decides to start a quest to find God. He is traveling with his trained hitman ex-girlfriend Tulip and an insanely old Irish vampire named Cassidy. Oh and Jesse has been advised (and still advised to this day) by John Wayne as a cowboy. To find out what goes on with the rest of their adventures together, you gotta read this volume. 5 stars.

Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 1 by Gail Carriger

First off, I would like to say that this is a manga in the sense of the type of illustrations and the newspaper it is printed on. However, it does not read like one (aka back to front, nor directionally). Aside from that, I really loved this adaption of Soulless, the first book of The Parasol Protectorate series. Alexia was just like I thought of her, though I would’ve put more meat on her bones. The front cover pictures on the books themselves make her out to be too thin, whereas the author describes her as more plus-size curvy. Conall was pretty much as I would’ve pictured him, handsome and dashing, though I would’ve put him a little bit older-looking than Alexia’s 26 years. Now for whatever reason, I’m guessing because it is classed as a manga, they filed this in the teen section, but I’ve always thought the series was just a little bit too adult, especially the first book (my personal preference). This is just the next step into making them into movies. 5 stars.

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