Archive for July, 2013

Once again, I’m feeling overwhelmed by life in general, which is spilling over to my creative pursuits, or lack thereof in this case. I have been bad about writing on the blog, and for that I am sorry. It seems like the only things I have free time for these days are reading books for Netgalley and Goodreads, and volunteering for the Library, with occasional video game play thrown in every now and then. I’ve been volunteering for about 6 weeks now and love it. Granted, if I happen to get the job I just interviewed for, I would have to stop as it is an evening position 😦 , so we’ll try to have fun with it while I can. I think part of the reason I enjoy it are for the great people in the group, who want to be there to improve themselves and their English language skills and are genuinely nice folks. The other part is the interesting discussions we get into at times. Like this past week, when we were talking about stereotypes for different regions of the US and that developed into how harmful they can be. As for the video games, my hubby bought me this awesome MMORPG called “The Secret World“, which is supposed to be a kind of sci-fi/dystopian/horror game with three factions, who are trying to control the outcome of the fight for the world. But it kept crashing and I couldn’t figure out exactly why, and then we found out it was because I would basically need a whole new computer to run it. Since I’m not in school anymore, I think I would like a more gamer-friendly computer in the future. So stuck with playing SWTOR and Torchlight II until I can find something more interesting that my computer can handle.

On to the real topic of this post. So I saw a similar post on a Teen Librarian’s blog that I follow, and thought it was a cool idea as the year is half over, so I thought I would share my lists. She only listed YA books, but I thought I would list all three categories and why I picked the books. All of these books (minus a couple exceptions) are ones that I have reviewed on the blog, so feel free to look them up.

  • Children
    • The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex : story was hilarious and great illustrations
    • Not Your Typical Dragon by Dan Bar-el: fantastic illustrations and good story
    • Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen: loved the mostly black/white/gray illustrations, with the yarn being the only splashes of color
    • Creepy Carrots! by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown: This book was like watching a b & w horror movie, but way cuter
    • Tibet Through the Red Box by Peter Sis: Peter Sis is a fabulous thoughtful storyteller and and even better illustrator
    • Red Knit Cap Girl by Naoko Stoop: love that she did these illustrations on wood and then photographed them, plus cute story
    • Squid and Octopus are Friends Forever by Tao Nyeu: adorable illustrations and story
    • Perfectly Percy by Paul Schmid: loved the simple story and adorable illustrations
    • Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Adam Rex: Neil Gaiman, what can I say? Love his work. Discovered Adam Rex’s brilliant illustration skills with this book
    • Chanticleer and the Fox by Geoffrey Chaucer, adapted and illustrated by Barbara Cooney: The only really old book (1950s) to make it to the list, but I adored Barbara Cooney’s illuminated manuscript-like illustrations for this book
  • YA
    • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: Probably my favorite book of the entire year, in all categories. Just an excellent story and Wil Wheaton was fabulous as the narrator
    • Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1) by Gail Carriger: Was hesitant to read this book at first, but now am totally in love with this series
    • Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School, #2) by Gail Carriger: Fabulous follow-up book to the first (can’t do proper review until closer to release date)
    • The Emperor of Nihon-Ja (Ranger’s Apprentice #10) by John Flanagan: As usual, John Flanagan and narrator John Keating weave an extraordinary tapestry of adventure, action and a touch of romance
    • Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama: an unexpected book, but one I really enjoyed
    • The Body at the Tower (The Agency #2) by Y.S. Lee: I discovered the whole series (3 so far) this year and have fallen in love with Mary the half Chinese/half Caucasian main character and spy – this one is probably my favorite for story, though the romance is better in the 3rd book
    • The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth : extremely well-written story about a lesbian teen girl from Montana
    • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz : can’t explain the awesomeness of this book, but do check my review on it
    • Viva Jacquelina! Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Over the Hills and Far Away (Bloody Jack #10) by L.A. Meyer : I love his books and this was the latest in the series; how cool is it that she gets to work with the Spanish artist Goya and ride bulls?
    • The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co, #1) by Jonathan Stroud: I loved his Bartimaeus books, so checking out this one which Rick Riordan (another favorite YA author) loved seemed natural 
  • Adult
    • Journeys on the Silk Road: A Desert Explorer, Buddha’s Secret Library, and the Unearthing of the World’s Oldest Printed Book by Joyce Morgan and Conrad Walters: the title alone makes this book sound interesting, but it really was a fascinating look into Buddhism, the world’s oldest book and early 20th century exploration
    • Shanghai Love by Lynn Wong: I am so grateful to have gotten a free copy of this book and to have been able to review the book for the author
    • Home is a Roof Over a Pig: An American Family’s Journey to China by Aminta Arrington: Great title and fascinating story about living in a foreign country and not speaking the language
    • In My Father’s Country by Saima Wahib: fantastic biography
    • Brunelleschi’s Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture by Ross King: I love Renaissance Italian art and this is a great glimpse into the art/architecture/engineering of the age
    • Biting Through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America’s Heartland by Nina Mukerjee Furstenau: My last post and review, a great cross-genre biography
    • The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss: the true story about author Alexandre Dumas’ father, who he based a lot of his book characters off of
    • Her Ladyship’s Curse (Disenchanted & Co, #1) by Lynn Viehl: a fun steampunk magical journey
    • Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me by Ellen Forney: a graphic novel approach to explaining Bipolar Disorder
    • Gilgamesh: A New English Version by Stephen Mitchell: a classic that had one crazy story, but entertaining nonetheless

Biting through the Skin

Biting through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America’s Heartland by Nina Mukerjee Furstenau

Biting through the Skin


I loved this book!* I could not stop reading it, and couldn’t wait to see what happened next in her story. It is a cross-genre memoir that is part biography, part travel journal, with equal measures of culinary and cultural background and recipes. The book tells the author’s story with an emphasis on how she relates the food, cooked first by her mother and later by herself, and her Bengali Indian background into life in a small Kansas town. As a first-generation immigrant, it is interesting to see the world through her eyes, as she struggles to discover the part of herself embedded deep within her culture, though she had a tendency to hide it away from mainstream Americans for fear of being labeled “different”. I liked how she talks about the recipes her mother got from her family in Bengal when she first got married, and how these were the same recipes that the author used when she joined the Peace Corps and was living in Northern Africa with her new husband. I also enjoyed the link she made between food and language, and how much the two are linked. It made me want to do an anthropological study on the topic. Then there are the recipes, which are at the end of each chapter and explain the author’s story almost better than anything else. Can’t wait to try the Carrot Halwa, Ginger Mashed Potatoes with Savory Filling, Minced Meat Curry, and Yogurt Fish. This book reminded me of another excellent culinary memoir entitled Maman’s Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen.

There were a lot of excellent quotes in it, especially the ones relating to food, such as “Food was my tether to heritage; it revealed my world and transformed me into someone willing to share that story with others,” and “Food holds memory. It holds story. It can represent who we are.” For another more-detailed review on the book, check out this blog post . For the blog of the author, which includes her wonderful writing, recipes and a list of her publications, check that site out.

*I received this book as an Advanced Reader’s Copy from Netgalley. It did not affect how I viewed and reviewed the book.

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co, #1) by Jonathan Stroud

The Screaming Staircase

This was another Netgalley ARC which did not impact how I reviewed the book. I had heard about this book from the author’s blog, which I follow on Goodreads as he is one of my favorite YA authors. He had talked about another YA author Rick Riordan reading it and just raving about it, so when I found it on Netgalley, I immediately requested it. The author did not disappoint. I devoured the book, even making myself run a bit late this morning as I tried to finish it before I left for work, as the ending was very well-done. My only gripe with the book was the lack of background on the character of Lockwood. The author made him rather mysterious.  

The story takes place in an alternative history version of Great Britain, which is infested with ghosts or Visitors as they call them in the book. “The Problem” started in earnest about fifty years previously, and there are ghost hunting agencies all over London and the rest of the country that specialize in getting rid of them. Children are more apt at hearing and seeing them, so they are the agents, while adults supervise.  A teenaged girl named Lucy Carlisle, who has the incredible ability of being able to hear ghosts, has come to London to find work in one of the agencies, but so far has not had any luck. That is, until she happens about a small firm called Lockwood and Company, operated by two teenage boys named Anthony (who goes by Lockwood) and George. She joins them after a strenuous test and is soon an active agent helping out with a variety of cases. The story opens as the crew is investigating a house in London, where a man has died and a Visitor has appeared. While neutralizing the ghost, they accidently burn the house down. This earns them not only a bad reputation but they are also being sued by the house’s owners. They need money and new cases fast. So when a new huge case lands in their lap, they jump at the chance. A wealthy lord has a house out in the country that is so full of ghosts it has been killing people for years. Will Lockwood and Company be able to survive the malevolent spirits trapped in this house and be able to gain their reputation back? To find out, read this exciting opening to the series. I am very much looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Recommended for ages 13+, 4 1/2 stars.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn

Self-Portait, 1659

Rembrandt Self Portait 1659

Since Rembrandt’s 407th birthday was on Monday, I figured now would be as good a time as any to do another art post, as I really enjoy them even though it takes me forever to create one. Pretty much everyone has heard of the painter Rembrandt. His name brings up the image of some of his more famous works, such as The Nightwatch or one of his many self – portraits. If you would like to know more about the artist, check out this biography. I was first exposed to Rembrandt the summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school, when I took my first European trip. I was born in Germany and lived there for a few years, but this is the first trip that I remember. We had gone to the Rijksmuseum (State Museum) in Amsterdam, and I had briefly seen The Nightwatch by Rembrandt on a whirlwind tour through the museum. I was amazed that one painting could be so enormous, as it took up an entire wall, floor to ceiling. I didn’t get to examine it in thoroughly until about four years later, while on Spring Break during my Study-Abroad to Italy. Around this time, my mom became totally enthralled with his version of Return of the Prodigal Son , and had a large poster of it in her office when she was a parish priest. I also viewed his work and others like it for a Chiuroscuro exhibition at the Rembrandt House . This was where the artist lived and worked for about 20 years before it became too much of a financial burden, and it is now a museum. During my undergraduate degree in Art History, I took a class on Baroque art which featured his art along with many other artists.

For this blog post, I plan on examining this famous artist by discussing key aspects of his life, in particular his relationships with others. In particular, I would like to focus on his wife Saskia, his son Titus and his mistress/common law wife Hendrickje. I would also like to discuss two of his most famous works, The Nightwatch and The Jewish Bride (Isaac and Rebecca) because I enjoy them, but will do so in a separate post.

He met Saskia through her cousin Hendrick, in whose house Rembrandt was living in 1633, and she became a regular sitter for his artwork. She died of Tuberculosis in 1642, and their son Titus was born just seven months before her death. In addition to making him Titus’s sole guardian, Saskia’s will also, according to this paper from the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge University, “dictated (as was usual) that Rembrandt would forfeit his interest in Saskia’s property if he ever remarried; for whatever reason, he never did.” The painting I would like to examine is one that he completed only a year after they got married. It is entitled Saskia van Uylenburgh in Arcadian Costume. According to this blog post on the two of them, “Rembrandt has dressed her as a deity of youth, rebirth and beauty, along with her rustic shepherdess’s staff. This idyllic and pastoral setting was very popular with the upper-class Dutch society in the early seventeenth century. They had a love of all things to do with the romantic ideal of life in the countryside which they perceived as unadulterated bliss.”

Saskia van Ulylenburgh in Arcadian Costume, 1635


 I’ve always been fascinated by Saskia, as he always seems to paint her with almost ethereal quality with her light-colored hair in a halo around her head. They were only married a very short time but he seems to think of her as the love of his life and is devastated when she dies before the age of 30, and only married for seven years. I guess I am a little curious what she saw in him. After all, all though he seemed to have a good education, he came from a less prosperous family (his father was a miller) than her very large wealthy family. Not to say he’s a bum or a mooch, but it is hard for people from two social classes to get along properly at times. It is interesting to note that her family approved of the match, but his family did not because of religious reasons (he cut ties with them after this). Obviously from the viewpoint of Rembrandt it was a good match because her cousin Hendrick was a well-known art dealer who helped him advance his career.

Rembrandt’s son Titus is the first living child out of four that his mother Saskia brought into this world. He became a painter like his father and married a silversmith’s daughter. It is interesting to note that the woman he married was a relative of Saskia, Titus’s mother, and was specifically chosen to avoid any further lawsuits from her against Rembrandt, in the future, over money issues. Titus lived to age 27, dying of the plague one year before his father and his wife had a daughter 6 months after that. My favorite painting of him is one that is in the Rijksmuseum, and shows him in a monk’s habit.

Titus van Rijn Dressed in a Monk’s Habit, 1660

Titus van Rijn in a Monk's Habit by Rembrandt

Hendrickje came into Rembrandt’s life originally as his housekeeper/maid. At the time, he was having a relationship with Titus’s nurse Geertje, but it was not as serious as his relationship with Hendrickje, with whom he fathered a child. I did find it sort of amusing on this blog post that “in June 1654 the Council of the Reformed Church of Amsterdam got wind of this relationship and summoned Rembrandt and Hendrickje to stand before them. Rembrandt was not a practicing churchgoer so the matter against him was dropped. Hendrickje however was accused of whoredom and of living with a man, unwed [oh yeah blame the female maid and not her employer]. Being six months pregnant there was little point in denying the charge. Her punishment was being unable to receive communion.” Another part of the reason the church made such a big deal about the two of them was because Hendrickje was 20 years younger than Rembrandt, and she had posed nude for the Bathsheba painting. Hendrickje gave him a daughter in June 1654. She, and possibly Geertje, become his common-law wives.  She died 9 years later, likely of bubonic plague.

For awhile, she was his muse and he painted and probably drew her image multiple times. The most famous painting she posed for was Bathsheba at Her Bath, now in the Louvre. The story is taken from the Old Testament of the Bible. King David is standing on the roof of his palace and sees a beautiful woman taking a bath. He finds out that she is Bathsheba, wife of Uriah the Hittite. David starts lusting after her and sends her a letter asking her to come/summoning her to the palace, where they will eventually consumate their relationship. As soon as he realizes that she is pregnant with his child, David sends Uriah on a deadly battle mission and he is killed in action. The king marries Bathsheba but the child does not survive, as it has been cursed by God, thanks to David’s method of consummation. Normally most versions of this painting show Bathsheba as David first spies her, but Rembrandt sets the scene a bit later, after she gets the summons from the king and is holding it in her hand and trying to decide what to do. Should she be unfaithful to her husband? Or should not even consider this and just be faithful to her king and do his bidding? She is sad in her contemplation, and perhaps a bit guilty. A servant kneels at her feet and washes them. She is surrounded by a golden brocaded robe, and yet holds a simple white shift in her hand. I like that the woman in the painting does not look like a supermodel, but more  like someone’s actual wife. It is as  this article says “The models were no ethereal beauties, but ordinary Dutch women, who could make good use of the money they earned by posing. But Rembrandt also had prints in his collection after paintings by Italians, whose canvases usually represented women of ideal beauty. He put Bathsheba about halfway between the two.”

Bathsheeba at Her Bath, 1654

Bathsheba at Her Bath - Rembrandt 1654

Book Reviews #7

I have been keeping busy the last month rediscovering Netgalley again. There are some pretty decent books coming out now and I love being able read them early. I also found Edelweiss through another blogger that I follow, which is an additional Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) website. Through that site, I was lucky enough to get the ARC of Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School, Book the Second) by the awesomely talented Gail Carriger. However I can’t post my review on that book until 2 weeks before the release date in November. I am currently reading an actual book copy of Neil Gaiman as editor of Unnatural Creatures, a collection of short stories. I’m also listening to Libba Bray’s audiobook version of The Diviners, a book that had not heard of but found the last time I was browsing the teen section at my library. I’ve read half of the newest two-volume set by Gene Luen Yang (author of American Born Chinese). The first volume is called Saints and the second is called Boxers, and they are both on the Boxer Rebellion in China at the turn of the 20th century, but taken from two different viewpoints or rather from characters on different sides of the conflict. Saints was a complicated story and I’m not 100% sure how to review it, which is why I’m waiting on finishing the second to do that. On to the book reviews. As always, I rate things from 1 – 5 stars, one being the lowest and 5 being the highest. The Caldecott Challenge, which I started last May, is my attempt to read all of the Caldecott Honors and Award winners from 1938 – the present. This year, I will include some photos of illustrations that I like with the reviews. Because I have previously reviewed the Netgalley books on my blog, I will just list the titles and provide the links to them.


Perfectly Percy by Paul Schmid

Perfect Percy image

I’ve been waiting for a copy of this book for what seems like forever and it finally came in last week. I loved the playful illustrations by the author/illustrator of a young porcupine named Percy who loves balloons, but due to his prickly exterior, they keep popping. It takes some serious thinking and imagination for him to come up with a solution. Recommended for ages 2-6, 4 stars.

Not Your Typical Dragon by Dan Bar-El

Not Your Typical Dragon

Liam and I loved this book about being different! I think kids and parents alike can appreciate this book. Crispin is not your typical 7 year old dragon. Instead of spouting fire out of his mouth on his birthday, whipped cream comes out instead. At first his family is ashamed, so Crispin runs away from home and meets a knight named Sir George. Neither seems to be a typical example of what their parents expect. Sir George tries to help Christian breathe fire, but it doesn’t go as planned. As it gets dark, Sir George escorts Crispin home. After he manages to save his parent’s house and Sir George’s father, Crispin’s family embraces his differences and celebrates them. Recommended for ages 3-7, 5 stars.

Caldecott Challenge

Feather Mountain by Elizabeth Olds

This book won a 1952 Caldecott Honor, otherwise I probably never would have picked it up. It is based off a Native American tale and tells the story of how birds got their feathers. Like a lot of books from this time period, I think it’s too long to hold the attention of both the reader (myself) and my 2 year old (I’m sure anyone under 5 would have trouble). The illustrations were not that interesting either. Recommended for ages 4-7, 2 stars.

When Will the World Be Mine? by Miriam Schlein

When Will the World Be Mine

Even though the story was a little long and had to be broken into two days, I really enjoyed this tale of a little snowshoe rabbit growing up and asking questions about the world around him. I absolutely loved the illustrations done by Jean Charlot, who is known for doing Mexican murals though he did quite a few children’s books as well. This book he did with crayon on acetate and only used two colors. To learn more about this technique, check out this paper from the University of Hawaii (about 19 paragraphs down in “A Child’s Good Night Book” sections). Recommended for ages 4-8, 4 stars.

Dash and Dart by Mary and Conrad Buff

My first thought with this 1943 Caldecott Honor winner unfortunately was geez this book is long! I realize that that was the habit with books from the 1930s-50s, but this may be the longest one so far at 73 pages. Granted it is a poetry book and one continuous story, but it took 3-4 nights to read this to my son. I enjoyed the mostly black and white illustrations and story through rhyming poetry about two young fawns named Dash and Dart, who grow up in the forest. Recommended for ages 4-7, 3 stars.

Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang

Ten, Nine Eight by Molly Bang

This book is a bedtime counting story about a young African-American girl who is being put to bed by her father. It was a short sweet book, where the child learns to count backwards from ten to one. My son enjoyed looking at all the illustrations. Recommended for ages 2-6, 3 stars.

Alphabatics by Suse McDonald

I enjoyed this fun and simple Alphabet book, which won a 1987 Caldecott Honor. The letter morphs into the word on the opposite page, like N turning into Nest or G turning into a Giraffe. My son loved the brightly colored pictures in this simple picture book, and I liked that I could point to the picture in the book and then to the wall stickers that corresponded to that animal/object (like T for Tree or L for Lion). Recommended for ages 2-6, 4 stars.

Children and Young Adult

Perigrine Harker and the Black Death by Luke Hollands

House of Many Ways (Howl’s Moving Castle #3) by Diana Wynne Jones, narrated by Jenny Sterlin

I thought this was the second book in the Howl’s Moving Castle series but apparently it’s the third. Eventually I will get to read Castle in the Air (the actual second book). It was a little bit of a slow start at first, but once the story got going, I was hooked. I loved her choice of words in the book and enjoyed seeing more storyline involving Howl, Sophie and Calcifer.

Book-loving Charmain Baker is asked to watch up her Great Uncle William’s house. He is a magician who works for the King of High Norland, but has become ill and must be taken care of by the elves. It turns out his house is magical and is bigger than it looks. Charmain must also look after Great Uncle William’s stray dog Waif and a would-be apprentice named Peter, who is horrible at magic. Charmain also has to deal with a group of kobolds who are mad at Wizard Norland and scary creature called a lubbock who wants to implant his eggs in her. She ends up working in the library of the palace for the King and his daughter Princess Hilda, who are trying to figure out where all the kingdom’s money has gone and what the Elfgift is. They’ve also asked the wizard Howl, Hilda’s friend Sophie Pendragon and the fire demon Calcifer to help. Will they ever find the money and discover the true nature of the Elfgift? To find out, check out this great book. Recommended for ages 9+, 4 stars.

Young Adult

If You Could be Mine by Sara Farizan

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff

The Girl with the Iron Touch (Steampunk Chronicles #3) by Kady Cross

I found this book rather hard to review because really there’s not much going on story-wise. Now there’s a ton in the feeling development department, at least for the two main couples who have finally revealed their true feelings to each other. But there isn’t much character development aside from the feelings, and Jasper has almost no role in the story at all. Despite this, I had been waiting forever for this book to come out and was super excited to pick it up from the library last week.

Emily, Sam, Griffin, Finley and Jasper have returned from America after the adventures from the last book, The Girl with the Clockwork Collar and the opening of this book with the Kraken was very exciting. Things settle down a bit until Emily (the girl in the title) is kidnapped by automatons who serve the Machinist, who the gang supposedly killed in the previous book, but who is being kept alive by his machines. Meanwhile Griffin is struggling with something in the Aether and is wearing himself down, but will tell no one who or what it is. Before she was kidnapped, Emily told Sam she loved him and he’s desperate to tell her his feelings. Jack makes an appearance in the beginning, which of course bugs the crap out of Griffin and you kind of get the feeling that his rough Cockney accent is more of a put-on to annoy Griffin than him actually being from South London. I would personally love to have more story with Jack, so am excited to hear about an e-book coming out on the topic. Griffin and Finley finally reveal their true feelings to each other. Will Emily go through what she has been ordered to do by the Machinist? Will the rest of the gang ever figure out where Emily is? To find out, read the third book in this exciting steampunk series. Recommended for ages 12+, 4 stars.

City of a Thousand Dolls (Bhinian Empire #1)  by Miriam Forester, narrated by Shannon McManus

I picked this up randomly while browsing the teen audiobook section, as the summary sounded interesting. The narrator was not the best choice, in my opinion, though as other reviewers have commented on, it could be the book itself. I just thought as the book was supposed to be set in an Asian-like setting they should’ve picked someone from that part of the world who was better at doing voices. Despite the poor choice in narrator, I stuck with the book because I found the story fascinating and enjoyed the plot twists. I really did not know who did it until the very end.

The City of a Thousand Dolls is a place where the people of the Bhinian Empire can take their unwanted girls, necessary because of the Empire’s two child policy. The houses train each girl up as novices in various fields such as healing, seduction, music/dance, and fighting. Nisha came to the city when she was 6 years old, and she doesn’t remember her parents all that much. Who were they and why did they leave her here? She is taken under the wing of an older girl named Taniya and they become good friends. The story opens up 10 years later, right before the Redeeming Ceremony (where girls can be selected for marriage, apprenticeships and to become a mistress). Taniya has been groomed for years as the bride of the Crown Prince, and he is coming to claim her this year. Nisha is hoping that the guy she has been seeing will speak up for her. She has been working for the Matron (the person in charge of the City of Dolls) as a spy and assistant. Nisha is also unique because she can mind-speak to the local spotted cats. Shortly after the story begins, a girl is murdered and there are no suspects. Then another two girls die. Who is killing them and why? Nisha must find out, with the help of the cats she does so. Recommended for ages 13+, 3 1/2 stars.


Her Ladyship’s Curse (Disenchanted & Co., #1) by Lynn Viehl

 The Cute Girl Network by MK Reed and Greg Means, illustrations by Joe Flood

Crucible: Star Wars by Troy Denning

My Japanese Table: A Lifetime of Cooking with Friends and Family by Debra Samuels

I want to own this book! The author spent a total of 10 years in Japan, living and working there, so she knows what she is talking about. I love Japanese cuisine, but it can sometimes be a bit unapproachable when it comes to actually cooking it due to trying to find ingredients or cooking techniques. The recipes here were simple and easy to make, and although most of them were things I had heard of or seen before, there were some new interesting things to make. Sauteed Daikon Radish (which I’ve recently discovered that I like, though I’ve never tried them like this) with Citrus Miso Sauce, Matcha Cupcakes with Adzuki Bean Filling, and Japanese Mushroom Mélange with Butter and Soy are just a few of the great dishes I would love to try. 5 stars.

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