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Sunday, April 5, 2020

Stacking the Shelves [118]



Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to show off the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week. If a book catches your eye, *click* the picture to go to the Goodreads page of that book.

Freebies



Be the Girl by K.A. Tucker

In my Mailbox



Calypso by Ebony Olson


Stay safe, y'all. Stay home.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Review: Enchantée by Gita Trelease



Title: Enchantée
Series: Enchantée #1
Author: Gita Trelease
Format: Paperback ARC
Pub. Date: February 5th 2019
Source: Goodreads First Reads/Flatiron Books


Book Description:



Love.
Magic.
Revolution.

When smallpox kills her parents, seventeen-year-old Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic--la magie ordinaire--Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won't hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family's savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

With the dark magic she learned from her mother, Camille transforms herself into 'the Baroness de la Fontaine' and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. Her resentment of the rich at odds with the allure of glamour and excess, Camille is astonished to find that her would-be suitor Lazare, a handsome young inventor whom she thought shared her dreams of liberty, is also living a double life.

As the Baroness de la Fontaine, Camille gambles at cards and flirts, desperate to maintain her place at court and keep herself and her sister off the streets. But la magie has its costs. When a scheming courtier blackmails her and Lazare's affections shift, Camille loses control of her secrets. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose--love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, reality or la magie--before Paris burns.

Bestselling author of Caraval Stephanie Garber calls Enchantée "a lit firework crackling with treacherous magic, decadent romance, and disguises that take on lives of their own--deliciously addictive!" Gita Trelease's lush, imaginative debut fantasy is perfect for anyone looking for immersive magic in the world of Sofia Copola's Marie Antoinette.






Review:


★★★

Three and a half stars, rounded up.

What a good story. At the very base of it all, Gita Trelease is simply a talented story weaver.

This story had a lot going on. There's something in this book for everyone- French history, magic, revolution, fairy tale elements, romance, steampunk elements, betrayal, POC, LGBT, gambling, family, fashion, royalty. There's a lot to take in. Sometimes it seems like a bit too much at times, but it's nevertheless entertaining.

Something that Trelease does very well is "show" instead of "tell". She uses all five senses to conjure up such vivid imagery, especially when the lead character is in Versailles. What colors the candles glowed, how the pastries smelled, what sort of music played in the background. It's very easy to get swept up in the fantastical, yet somehow real, world of beaded dresses, powdered wigs, and Rococo symphonies. It would easily make a fantastic movie with the detailed imagery at play here.

The characters are pretty well developed, and I liked the lead, Camille, very much. She is pretty bad ass and makes sacrifices- even ones that arguably are "bad guy" decisions- for the ones she loves, and she owns it. She cares very passionately but isn't perfect and makes mistakes and learns from them. She encourages her sister and tries her best to protect her family, even the unlikable ones. The characters that you don't like, you don't like for a good reason, and the ones you love you cheer for. The love is very slow burning, but I adored Lazare, and I appreciated that he was of half-French, half-Indian descent. He struggled with his identity and it was an interesting plot to follow. He's not quite as he seems, both regal and an adventurer, honor-bound and humble. I was drawn to him as Camille was. I also appreciated the LGBT representation, albeit slight.

I think that the world building was fantastic, but a little bit misprioritized. The author does a magnificent job of building the world of Paris and Versailles, of revolution and royalty. However.... those things are real. I know what Paris was like, I've studied history, and I've read other books set here. What I wish had more backstory and detail was "la magie" or, the magic that some of the characters know. That's not common or assumed knowledge, and I wish a little more time was spent flushing out the magic components and history.

I think the pacing was a little off in spots too. Don't get me wrong- this book was incredibly entertaining, and overall I found it enjoyable. But clocking in at just under 500 pages, this isn't a quick read. Parts felt extremely slow, while others seemed rush. The "bad guy" plot didn't really gain steam until 3/4 of the way though, and it was a bit "foiled again, Batman!" when it arrived.

Another thing that sort of bugged me was that the French words aren't italicized or indicated at all. I speak French, so for me it didn't matter too much. But I can see that being an issue if I did not. Granted, there is a glossary of French words in the back, and my copy is an unfinished ARC, so perhaps this is not an issue in the finished copy.

All in all, this book is intriguing. If you're drawn into the likes of stories like Les Mis or Beauty and the Beast, then this book is more up your alleys. The historical components seem well researched and well blended with elements of magic, although I wish there was a little more magic throughout. The characters are the type you'll feel connected to, and with Trelease's skill at painting a textual picture you'll find yourself swept away to Marie Antoinette's court alongside magicians, gamblers, and aristocrats. While I might have had some issues with this book, I would definitely be interested in reading the sequel when it comes out in the future.

Thank you to Goodreads First Reads/Flatiron Books who gave me an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Stacking the Shelves [117]



Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to show off the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week. If a book catches your eye, *click* the picture to go to the Goodreads page of that book.

Purchased




The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney
Gothic Lolita by Dakota Lane

Little Free Library



Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline

Other Book Stuff

I went to C2E2 in Chicago the other weekend, and got some books signed. I'm pretty excited about it!



Friday, March 13, 2020

Review: Best Bondage Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 edited by by Rachel Kramer Bussel



Title: Best Bondage Erotica of the Year, Volume 1
Editor: Rachel Kramer Bussel
Format: Paperback, 248 pages
Pub. Date: March 10th 2020
Source: Rachel Kramer Bussel


Book Description:



Super sexy, sensual, and surprising bondage stories from Tiffany Reisz, Somer Marsden, Valerie Alexander, and more collected in this exciting volume by erotica maven Rachel Kramer Bussel!

A cameraman puts a TV anchor on display in a whole new way… Two NASA officials wage an interstellar battle between protocol and desire, and one is taken captive . . . A gender-bending bounty hunter keeps his bounty hostage for more than just the monetary reward . . . Two warring neighbors discover that bondage can be a powerful negotiating tool . . . “Merlin” and the “Lady of the Lake” invoke the magic of the woods to fuel their fiery passions . . .

Best Bondage Erotica of the Year is back with erotica maven and award-winning editor Rachel Kramer Bussel compiling the most scintillating bondage stories into this one amazing collection. With a wide variety of different pairings, genders, and genres, these stories are all united in their deep desire for the mind-bending thrills of this o-so-delectable act. Whether you are exploring your kinky side, are looking for inspiration in the bedroom, or are simply interested in a sexy read, this collection is poised to please and titillate readers of any experience level who are keen to explore the depths of their own passions and penchants for the perverse.



Table of Contents

Chained—Ria Restrepo

Impropriety—Winter Blair

Over Under—Kendel Davi

Protocol—Angora Shade

Beach Blanket Ballet—Richard Bacula

Kneel—Kate Allure

Pretty Tied Up—Zak Jane Keir

The Deepest Part of the Forest—Deborah Castellano

Connection—Lazuli Jones

BYOB—Elizabeth Coldwell

Contrary—Kim Kuzuri

Freefall—Valerie Alexander

Delicate Matters—Leandra Vane

Boundless—Sammy Rei Schwarz

Stronghold—Leif Often

Necessary Roughness—Rachel Kramer Bussel

Safe Sex—Violet R. Jones

Hold On Harder—Dena Hankins

The Student Seat—Sommer Marsden

The Beguiling of Merlin—Tiffany Reisz






Review:


★★★★

Every time that Rachel Kramer Bussel and Cleis Press release a new anthology, I get excited. It seems like the newest one is always newer, sexier, and more batshit than the last. And I mean that in the best way possible. There's newer scenarios, a wide variety of short stories, a whole manner of arrangements of kink and couplings and throuplings and beyond.

Between the pages of this anthology include stories that feature gender-bending, non-binary characters, couples (straight, gay, lesbian, the works), throuples, groups, young characters, old characters, disabled characters, POC characters, realistic stories, sci-fi stories, fantasy stories, historical stories, Dommes, Doms, role play, chains, ropes, public play, and way too much to keep listing like this. As the title of the anthology implies, the one strand that weaves all of these radically different stories together is the theme of bondage.

Because it's an anthology, I certainly liked some stories more than others. Though I always review only my top three favorite stories, I always take notes on each story and give each one a rating to help me determine the final amount of stars. I can honestly say that out of all the Cleis Press anthologies I've reviewed over the years, this book has the fewest low-rated stars out of all of them. No 1-star, and only one 2-star. The picks for this ones are pretty great to get your smut on. (In fact, 6 of them get perfect 5 stars from me!)

The ones I didn't care for as much are for various reasons- kinks that I'm not into, language that isn't my thing (I think we all have our preferred sexy words and ones that are y i k e s), one story was a bit disjointed and flowery. But, what didn't float my boat might hyper-float yours.

Because these are 20 stories by 20 authors, this book is easy to read either in one go, or in little bites of a story or two here and there.

As always, I'll highlight my top three favorite stories.

The first story that I'll highlight is actually the last one in the book, ensuring that the collection goes out with one helluva bang. It's called "The Beguiling of Merlin: An Erotic Fantasia" by Tiffany Reisz. It's a story I didn't know I wanted. It involves a hetero couple, an art book, history, roleplay, and obviously, bondage. It's a lovely blend of magic and realism, somehow reading as both a wonderful sort of fairy tale and an extremely steamy erotica. It's both pretty and dirty and I'm here for it.

The second book I'll recommend is called "The Deepest Part of the Forest" by Deborah Castellano. You'll probably notice a theme to the sort of stories that I enjoy reading. This story involves Halloween, a primal energy, a big bad wolf, a Red, a forest and, yes, more bondage. I thought this story had a fun, playful yet primal vibe to it. I love Halloween, I love a big bad wolf, and this was just up my alley.

The third one is one that I loved but also puzzles me, because Rachel Kramer Bussel's anthologies have made me acutely aware of the fact that "lesbian historical erotica" is a thing I'm into. Not weirdly specific at all! The last story is called "Impropriety" by Winter Blair. It involves a female/female pairing, a case of malaise, a historical setting, a tinkerer's workshop, bondage (shocking I know!) and an unusual device that may just give her everything she's missing and more. It's sexy, it's playful, it held my attention, and it left me wanting a longer story. I'd read a whole book of Jessamine and Ada. More of this, please!

All in all this book has a scratch to soothe any kinky itch. There's light stories, dark stories, fun stories, a rainbow of characters and a treasure trove of kinks. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection and I'm happy to add it to my shelf.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Stacking the Shelves [116]



Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to show off the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week. If a book catches your eye, *click* the picture to go to the Goodreads page of that book.

In my Inbox




Mermaid Moon by Susann Cokal
Beauty & the Lumberjacks by Lee Savino

In my Mailbox



Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline

Freebies



Blood 4 Life by M. Lorrox

Friday, March 6, 2020

Review: Everyday Bakes to Showstopper Cakes by Mich Turner




Title: Everyday Bakes to Showstopper Cakes
Author: Mich Turner
Format: eARC
Pub. Date: March 10th
Source: Netgalley / White Lion Publishing


Book Description:




In Everyday Bakes to Showstopper Cakes, celebrity baker Mich Turner brings together a collection of recipes to take you all the way from the delicious everyday through to the spectacular. Starting out with simple cakes, biscuits and cupcakes, once you have mastered this first level, Mich provides you with a few extra steps to turn these into fabulous creations. If you’re looking for more of a challenge or to elevate a favourite, these bakes are easily adapted to create a true showstopper cake. Covering a full range of bakery goods as well as perfect flavours, whether you are a novice baker or already know your rum baba from your roulade, you can be easily guided through these delicious bakes and simple but spectacular decoration techniques that make the most of wonderful flavours and perfect crumb.





Review:


★★★★

What can I say? I'm a sucker for the Great British Bake Off and I was drawn into a book that promised me Showstopper Cakes.

What I really like about this book is that the recipes are divided into the two title categories: either an everyday bake or a showstopper cake. It's good for those who are more beginner who might want to start simple. Or conversely, for more experienced bakers who are looking to challenge themselves a little bit more.

This book is divided by types of bakes including: Cupcakes, Loafcakes Traybakes and Meringues, Layer Cakes, and Celebration Cakes.

There's conversions here which are helpful, given the British-ness off the book. Because of that, take note that some ingredients will need to be swapped as this book includes things harder to find in America, like Maltesers.

Each recipe has helpful hints and tips, and the instructions are written really well. I wish that some of the more complicated bakes would have included step-by-step photos. I know this book is beginner to more advanced, but I assume the audience is still home bakers. The extra help for some of them would have gone a long way!

I really like that some of the recipes are just sort of kicked up a notch, so to speak. That is, there will be a cupcake version and a cake version, or a cake version and a wedding cake version. It's nice to see the varieties of the same thing in different challenge modes.

There are a lot of photos, which I really appreciate, especially in a book like this about flashy bakes. Plus, the photos that are included are fantastic. They look like stellar cakes and so the title is accurate for sure.

There's templates included in the back for some of the design work, which is helpful. There's also a few random cookie recipes in the back which are a bit weird and out of place but, hey, I like cookies as much as the next baker.

Some of the recipes that sounded the most delicious to me include: Venetian Easter Eggs, Lemon and Elderberry Layer Cake, and The Althorp Chocolate and Salted Caramel Layer Cake.

This would be welcome on any home baker's shelf, and would make a great gift for that baker in your life who you beg to bring treats to your parties.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Review:
A New Dictionary of Fairies by Morgan Daimler



Title: A New Dictionary of Fairies: A 21st Century Exploration of Celtic and Related Western European Fairies
Author: Morgan Daimler
Format: eARC
Pub. Date: March 1st 2020
Source: Netgalley / Moon Books


Book Description:



Fairies are a challenging subject, intertwining culture, folklore, and anecdotal accounts across centuries and millennia. Focusing primarily on the Celtic speaking cultures, with some material from adjacent cultures including Anglo-Saxon and Norse, A New Dictionary of Fairies has in-depth entries on a variety of fairies as well as subjects related to them, such as why we picture elves with pointed ears or where the idea of fairies being invisible comes from. It also tackles more complicated topics like the nature and physicality of the fairy people. Anyone with an interest in the Good Neighbours will find this book a solid resource to draw from.






Review:


★★★★

This is a really good reference book and a comprehensive guide for all things related to fae and fairy folk.

As the title suggests, this isn't a book so much as a dictionary, so things are listed alphabetically in an index, as a dictionary would be. Some of the entries are a really short few sentences, and some entries stretch on for multiple pages. Because it's listed in a dictionary format, it is extremely easy to navigate if you're looking for something specific to reference.

I was pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of items that are included in this book. It ranges from mythology/lore from all sorts of areas (such as Celtic, Norse, and Christianity), there's poets and poems and ballads, there references to actual, real historical accounts/people, and things like how the various fae folk look in appearance, or their demeanor.

Because there's such a wide canvas here, this is a good reference guide not just for magick practitioners and those interested in the fae, but authors and writers as well. There's also a lot of footnotes and research, so you can do further searching with relative ease.

The actual writing itself is a bit choppy and could use a little editing, but it was solid enough that I didn't notice too much.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, thank you!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Review:
The Illustrated Crystallary by Maia Toll



Title: The Illustrated Crystallary: Guidance and Rituals from 36 Magical Gems and Minerals
Author: Maia Toll
Format: eARC
Pub. Date: June 9th 2020
Source: Netgalley / Storey Publishing


Book Description:



In the ancient world there were three medicine kingdoms: animal, vegetable, and mineral. Following her previous acclaimed volumes on animal (The Illustrated Bestiary) and vegetable (The Illustrated Herbiary), Maia Toll fulfills the call for mineral with The Illustrated Crystallary , exploring the mystical qualities of 36 fascinating crystals and minerals, including gold, silver, copper, amethyst, hematite, mica, smokey quartz, emerald, ruby, and more. Combining bits of ancient wisdom with her own insights, Toll explores the aspects and energy of each stone and, through rituals and reflections, the life guidance it might offer contemporary readers. Obsidian’s shiny surface and sharp edges reflect the shadowy corners of the self and serve as the tool for cutting them loose. The sky-like color of earthly turquoise provides balance between opposing forces. The stunning illustrations of Kate O’Hara magnify the symbolism of each crystal throughout the book, and are also featured on 36 oracle cards included in an envelope bound in the back of the book.

Also available: The Illustrated Herbiary Collectible Box Set and The Illustrated Bestiary Collectible Box Set.






Review:


★★★★★

This book is absolutely gorgeous.

There are 36 crystals in this book. Each one has a beautiful illustration to represent it, as well as a description of what that crystal means or represents, its rating on the Mohs Hardness Scale, a self-reflection guide, and a ritual that utilizes that crystal. It's easy to read in one go, but because it describes individual crystals, it's also easy to set down, or to use as a reference guide.

Peppered throughout this book are little fun bits, such as quotes, questions to ponder as you reflect, and small stories of history and mythology. There's a good variety of types of stories, including Nordic, Renaissance, ancient Egypt, Rome, and more.

Some of the crystals that are described in this book include Azurite, Salt, Carnelian, and Larimar.

If you use crystals or practice magick, this is a beautiful book to have at your reference. Or, if you just are a fan of gorgeous mystic art, this book is worth looking through.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Review: Kitchen without Borders by The Eat Offbeat Chefs



Title: Kitchen without Borders: Recipes from Refugee and Immigrant Chefs and Stories of the Journey to Make a New Home
Authors: The Eat Offbeat Chefs
Format: eARC
Pub. Date: February 18th 2020
Source: Netgalley / Workman Publishing Company


Book Description:



A cookbook with wide-ranging roots and a very deep heart: 80 authentic, off-the-beaten-path recipes for delicious dishes from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Eritrea, Venezuela, and other countries are shared by chefs who arrived in the US as refugees and found work at the Eat Offbeat catering kitchen.






Review:


★★★★

What a charming, wholesome cookbook! This book is half recipes, and half stories from the chefs. They're stories of immigration, of refugees, of family and traditions, and the importance of food as a way of bringing people together and sharing with one another. There's little bio chapters for the chefs with their personal stories as well as why they included the recipes that they did and things like personal/family photos. It was touching and I really loved they way that all these chefs from radically different walks of life come together over their love of nourishing others with their home cooking. These recipes are exotic and from a wide variety of countries, including Sri Lanka, Eritrea, Iran, Algeria, Afghanistan, and way more than listed here.

The cookbook is divided into sections by course: Appetizers and Dips, Salads and Soups, Rice and Grains, Vegetarian Dishes, Meat Dishes, and Desserts and Drinks. There's also a section in the beginning that talks about ingredients and potential substitutions, as a lot of the spices and ingredients here may be difficult for your average reader to find locally. Helpfully, there are websites included in this book, should you wish to chase these harder-to-find ingredients down for yourself.

The steps are written well and are easy to follow, and there are a lot of pictures included in this book. That's a good thing for me, since I haven't eaten- let alone made- most of these dishes. It's nice to have a reference to see if what I'm doing looks even a little bit right.

Some of the recipes that sounded the best to me include zeytoon parvardeh (olive, pom, walnut tapenade), narges kebabs (almost like a scotch egg), and fesenjan (stewed chicken).

If you're looking for bolder recipes or to become a more well-rounded home cook, or if you just want to spice things up, this is a great cookbook to add to your collection.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Monday, February 17, 2020

Review:
Miss You Love You Hate You Bye by Abby Sher



Title: Miss You Love You Hate You Bye
Author: Abby Sher
Format: Paperback ARC
Pub. Date: February 18th 2020
Source: The Windy Pages


Book Description:



Zoe and Hank (short for Hannah) have been inseparable since they met in elementary school. The leader of the pack, Zoe is effortlessly popular while Hank hides comfortably in her shadow. But when Zoe's parents unexpectedly divorce, Zoe's perfect facade starts cracking little by little. Sinking under the weight of her broken family, Zoe develops an eating disorder. Now she must rely on Hank for help.

Hank struggles to help Zoe; after all, she is used to agreeing, not leading. How can she help her best friend get better before it's too late?

Written partially in letters from Zoe and mostly in narrative from Hank's perspective, Miss You Love You Hate You Bye is a poignant and eye-opening novel about friendship, mental health, and learning to put yourself first.





Review:


★★

I wanted to like this book. I really did. I think books on young adult mental health are so, so important. But this one fell flat for me and I was left disappointed.

The book is written in almost duel perspective. It's 90% from the main character, Hannah's, point of view. Every so often there's a letter written by Zoe to break things up. While I understand why it's written from both sides, I didn't care for the letters aspect and would have just preferred duel POVs as things were actually happening. Because of the letters, we start right off the bat knowing what Zoe's fate is. We know she's in a hospital/treatment center. We know she's mad at Hannah, and we know that ultimately, she's okay. Because of this, it made me less interested in the story from the get-go, because I had the resolution before I even know the story.

I didn't care for either character. Zoe is manic and struggling and a hot mess. She's dealing with a lot- ADHD, learning problems, her parents' divorce, her eating disorder. But we never really get too much of her side of why she's acting this way. Then there's Hannah, who has a complete do nothing attitude about almost everything in her life. She does whatever Zoe tells her to, always. That's all of her personality, even according to her: she's Hannah's friend. She notices eating habits but doesn't say anything. She is unhappy but doesn't say anything. She is negative about everything. She's rude AF to her mom's boyfriend even though he's nice and kind and her mom is happy (which she resents, even though she admits he's nice) and it has been years. Even her mom eventually calls her on the fact that she's like this, which I appreciated.

Both of their inner voices felt like they were done in "adult" voices (Hannah uses words like "hirsute" in her head, for example) but their out-loud dialogue sounded like middle school- very "OMG like cringe". They're high schoolers. This back and forth of writing style/voice was a bit jarring in places.

I wish the book would have been more about Zoe. She's the one with the disorder and struggling and yet she's not really what the book is about. I appreciate that some aspects of eating disorders and mental health and self-harm were realistically portrayed in all their ugliness. It's not all therapy and sadness, it can be mania and spiraling out.

But I just found myself bored, uninterested, and wanting it to be over. There's so much happening but so little of it gets closure. It feels disconnected and almost random.

I really like that this book is about platonic friendship. There's no romance component (albeit a kiss that felt forced and unnecessary for the plot), it's just a story about friendship and I think there should be more of that.

I also think the cover is super cute, but, obviously that has nothing to do with the plot.

I think there is a need and a space for YA books about hard topics like this. But I also think that there a lot of books already out there that cover them better than this book does. If it relates to one person, or helps someone find courage to talk to someone, than this book will have been worth writing.

But I am not that person, and this book wasn't for me. Be warned, this book contains drug use, eating disorders, self-harm, and other topics that might be tough to read for some people.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Mini Review: How to Save Your Child from Ostrich Attacks, Accidental Time Travel, and Anything Else that Might Happen on an Average Tuesday by James Breakwell



Title: How to Save Your Child from Ostrich Attacks, Accidental Time Travel, and Anything Else that Might Happen on an Average Tuesday
Author: James Breakwell
Format: Paperback, 200 pages
Pub. Date: November 5th 2019
Source: Borrowed from Emily


Book Description:



The parenting humorist behind the viral Twitter account @XplodingUnicorn and author of Only Dead on the Inside: A Parent’s Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse presents the long-awaited guide to surviving everything else

In the era of instant parent shaming and viral hot takes, some questions are too dangerous to ask out loud: What's the proper first aid for my toddler’s vampire bite? What should I do if I take a wrong turn on the way to soccer practice and end up in the Cretaceous Period? How can I fend off Godzilla without disrupting my child's nap?





Review:


★★★

This book is... Fine. That's all I'm really left feeling at the end of it.

I like James Breakwell. I follow him on Twitter, and I find his tweets and clip art style comics hilarious. I know this isn't his first book, but it's the first one that I've read. I'm bummed that I was left disappointed.

It's a funny book. There's definitely a sense of Breakwell's sense of humor here. But it peters out as the book goes on. It starts to feel phoned in and not as thoughtful as the first part of the book. It starts to feel redundant and boring, and not as funny. Which is a definite shame, because he's a funny guy.

I think there are a lot of parents out there who will relate to this and find it funny. There's clearly an audience for it. But for me, it was just sort of meh and there won't be much I remember about it now that I've finished reading it.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Mini Review: Doodling in French by Anna Corba



Title: Doodling in French: How to Draw with Joie de Vivre
Author: Anna Corba
Format: Hardcover, 144 pages
Pub. Date: January 25th 2012
Source: Gift from Lisa


Book Description:



Take a trip to Paris, without leaving your own backyard! Learn to create line drawings of all things quintessentially French with this charming volume filled with easy-to-follow exercises. Casual doodles will take on a Parisian je ne sais quoi as you render the majestic tiers of the Eiffel Tower, sketch the playful outlines of a fleur-de-lys, or learn to draw the perfect croissant. Sure to delight Francophiles and lovers of vintage ephemera alike, Anna Corba's evocative collages provide an alluring backdrop to her drawing instructions. In a gorgeous little package as pretty as a French pastry, including decorative blank pages in back that tear out so readers can doodle their own masterpieces, this sweet book is an ideal gift for anyone longing for la belle vie.





Review:


★★★★

This is such an adorable little book.

It's worth noting that I am one of the least artistic people on the planet. Even my stick figures are wonky at best. I've never taken the time to practice, and well, I'm just not good at it. But I do love to doodle, and I am often lured in by designs and imagery of French things. So, I think this book was perfectly made to be right up my alley.

The drawings are divvied up here by where they can be found, such as a cafe or a living room or a park. Each design has really easy to follow steps on how to achieve the desired sketch. Even I could follow them! The end results are darling and it made me feel like I could actually draw, even though sister, that is definitely not the case.

If you already have a talent for drawing, this is probably going to be too easy for you. But if you're like me and you just like to sketch and doodle without any real skills to speak of, this book is a good way to learn a little something more impressive.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Mini Review:
The Ghost Children by Eve Bunting



Title: The Ghost Children
Author: Eve Bunting
Format: Paperback, 163 pages
Pub. Date: September 1st 1991
Source: Garage Sale


Book Description:



When Matt and Abby go to live with Great-Aunt Gerda in Sierra Madre Canyon after their mother dies, Matt is put off at first by the life-size wooden dolls whom Aunt Gerda talks to and calls her “children.” However, when someone vandalizes the dolls and two are stolen, it is Matt, with the help of his new friend, Kristin, who foils the would-be thief and returns the dolls to Aunt Gerda.





Review:


★★★

I first read this book as a kid, and I remember being particularly creeped out by it. I felt similarly towards a lot of books about dolls and dummies (like The Dollhouse Murders and Night of the Living Dummy, for example). I came across my old copy on one of my bookshelves and decided to give it another go as an adult, to see if it holds up.

And, it doesn't. Not quite. The intrigue and inherent spookiness is still there, but it's not nearly as scary as I remember. It lingers in a sort of mysterious tone, as opposed to horror or thriller. Obviously, this book is for children, so it did its job for its intended audience, and I've just grown up.

The tone is what really sells this book. It's all a bit spooky and ominous, although it is extremely predictable in some parts. And in other parts, there's big plot holes that don't ever really get filled in.

Still, it has that enjoyable 1990's nostalgia to it, in the same way that RL Stine's Goosebumps series does. But, I find those enjoyable to reread. As for The Ghost Children, I have fond memories, but it's time to say goodbye from my shelf.

If you enjoyed the Goosebumps book or if you have a kid who likes spooky stories, this is a good one to check out. But if you're an adult, it won't hold that same creepiness for you.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Review: The Magick of Food by Gwion Raven



Title: The Magick of Food: Rituals, Offerings & Why We Eat Together
Author: Gwion Raven
Format: eARC
Pub. Date:January 8th 2020
Source: Netgalley / Llewellyn Publications


Book Description:



Delight Your Senses and Your Soul with a Feast of Recipes, Rituals, and Spells

Discover a magickal collection of lore, recipes, and practices from modern and ancient cultures of the world. The Magick of Food reveals how to transform the mundane task of fueling your body into an opportunity for deep nourishment and connection to loved ones and the divine. This powerful book provides detailed information on food magick and rituals, from edible aphrodisiacs to feasts for the gods.

Whether you're preparing boar tacos for Bacchus or a vegetable frittata to celebrate the equinox, this book helps you find community through food and build your kitchen witch skills. Using history, magick, and more than forty delicious recipes, you'll breathe new life into your devotional practice while you connect with ancestors and deities.





Review:


★★★★★

This book was absolutely what I needed.

I love to cook. And I love to bake. And I love to feed people. It is one thing I am good at and it is something that helps me express how much I care about someone else. Food comes from the heart, and this book is a complete celebration of that for a kitchen witch.

There are a wide variety of topics covered in this book, such as history, mythology, recipes, and rituals. I found the sections on history fascinating. It's interesting to read about how similar our traditions are in the 21st century (such as feasts like Thanksgiving) and also how very differently we enjoy the same things (like feasting when DoorDash delivers to us).

I appreciated how this book made me think of common things I do just a little bit differently. The biggest of these was a glaring example of cooking with intention that I'd never thought about before: chicken soup for those who are sick, and how we make it for them with the intention of them to drink it and feel better. It made complete sense, but I'd never framed it that way before.

It's also clear that the author did a fair amount of research for this book. It's littered with footnotes, references, and samples of texts by other writers. But as much as there were references cited, it never felt like it was a textbook. The author tells such heartfelt personal stories that it feels as though he was writing this paper just for me, friend to friend. I really liked that sense of comfort and familiarity. (And also he talks about how he goes to witch camp. I wanna go to witch camp!).

Another thing that I really appreciated is that Gwion Raven addressed the fact that not everyone has access to supplies, let alone groceries. He discussed food deserts, and how things can be substituted or adapted based on what you do have. So many magick publications just assume you have access to every single herb and ingredient on the planet and that you have endless space and equipment and it's not true for so, so many people. It was nice to see it addressed by someone.

The recipes included here are also pretty varied. I wish there had been a bit more of them, but there's still a pretty good number. They include things like ancient recipes, recipes for the sabbats, cocktail recipes, every day recipes, and even a section on aphrodisiacs.

Some of the recipes that I'm the most eager to try include: Kykeon (Ancient Greek horchata of sorts), Boar Tacos with Spicy Berry Salsa, Roasted Goat Leg with Grape Molasses, and Samhain Pot Roast for one.

I think that this is a great book for those who partake in magick and who also love food. It's a good mix of history, ritual, and recipe book that make it easy to read, and easy to bookmark for later reference.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Stacking the Shelves [115]



Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to show off the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week. If a book catches your eye, *click* the picture to go to the Goodreads page of that book.

It's been awhile but here we go!

In my Inbox



All the Pretty Things by Emily Arsenault
The Twin by Natasha Preston
Dark Secret by Danielle Rose

Just a few this week. What about you?

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Review: The Ultimate Ice Cream Cake Book by Kelly Mikolich



Title: The Ultimate Ice Cream Cake Book: 50 Fun Recipes to Satisfy Any Sweet Tooth
Author: Kelly Mikolich
Format: eARC
Pub. Date: February 4th 2020
Source: Netgalley / Rockridge Press


Book Description:



Master the art of ice cream cakes--the how-to guide to homemade desserts

Nothing says celebration like a slice of heavenly homemade ice cream cake! You don't need store-bought ice cream or boxed cake mix to make this fluffy and frosty treat from scratch. Whether you've dabbled in ice cream-making or whipped up a few cakes, The Ultimate Ice Cream Cake Book shows you how to handcraft delectable ice cream cakes in the comforts of your own kitchen.

Get the scoop on the essential tools and equipment you'll need with a handy introduction to cake-baking and ice cream-making. Then, find the perfect ice cream cake for any occasion with 50 tasty step-by-step recipes for classic and creative ice cream cakes, as well as plenty of tips and tricks so you'll taste sweet success in every bite.

The Ultimate Ice Cream Cake Book includes:

A la mode--An ice cream cake 101 introduces you to the delicious history of ice cream cakes and covers the various types of cakes and ice cream bases you'll be working with.

Piece of cake--These easy-to-follow recipes take you through every step of baking perfect cake and freezing flawless ice cream, including simple and fun steps for assembly and decoration.

Flavor of love--From beautiful boozy cakes to dreamy cheesecakes, wow your loved ones and satisfy your inner child with uniquely yummy flavor combinations.
Ace the art of ice cream cakes with The Ultimate Ice Cream Cake Book.





Review:


★★★

Ice cream cake is one of life's most underrated pleasures. What's not to like? Ice cream is delicious. Cake is delicious. That said.... I've never really considered making one. I have no reason for it, other than it hasn't quite occurred to me before. This book is dedicated only to the art of the ice cream cake, which is pretty cool.

The book is divided by type: Cake 101, Chocolate, Fruity, Cheesecake, Boozy, Artisanal, and a section of other important stuff like conversions and decorations. I really appreciated the way that this book is divvied up, because I'm not the biggest chocolate fan on the planet so I can jump right along to the fruity bits.

The instructions are well-written and easy to follow, so even beginners will have a breezy time trying to keep up. I also appreciate that the author recommends equipment but also teaches you how to do it without the gear. There's adaptations for no-churn recipes, for example if you don't have a proper ice cream maker (or if you're like me, room in your freezer).

There's also a surprisingly good variety here. You'd think it'd get old, since it's a cookbook dedicated to just one dish. But, there's recipes included here for other ice cream accessories, including donuts, pancakes, and cupcakes.

The one major drawback that this book has is its lack of photos. Ice cream is meant to be fun! This book is full of bright, fun flavors and varied combinations of cakes and ice creams. That should lead to lots of pictures, showing off how great these different color patterns/combos look! But there's maybe one photo or two per chapter, which was super disappointing to me.

Some of the recipes from this book that sounded the most delicious to me include: An Apple a Day Ice Cream Cake, You're a Peach Bundt Ice Cream Cake, and Don't Be Blue Blueberry Donut Ice Cream Sandwiches.

It's not a book I'd run out and buy, but it's one that I'll toy around with since I already have it.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review. Thanks!

Monday, February 3, 2020

Review: 30-Minute Meals 2 by Rachael Ray



Title: 30-Minute Meals 2
Author: Rachael Ray
Format: Paperback, 192 pages
Pub. Date: May 22nd 2003
Source: Little Library


Book Description:



Rachael pulls out all the stops in this best-selling collection of recipes. You'll find menus complete with mains, sides, and desserts, tailored for any occasion. Sections include: Make Your Own Take-Out, Monday Thru Friday Dinner Specials, Family-Style Suppers, Double-Duty Dinners, Passport Meals, Big Nights: Very Special Dinners, and Healthy Hunger Busters. Eating Healthy? Try a meat-free meal featuring Ravioli Vegetable Lasagna, Romaine Hearts with Lemon Chive Vinaigrette, and Fresh Oranges with Lime Sorbet. Have hard-to-please kids? We promise you they'll eat Meatball and Macaroni Soup, Grilled 4-Cheese Sandwiches and Chocolate-Dipped Bananas. Over 1.5 million sold!





Review:


★★


I don't know what I expected from this cookbook, but what I got certainly wasn't it. I understand that the whole point of this "cookbook" is that it's stuff you can do in less than 30 minutes. But some of the "recipes" are literally just store bought products. How do you make an Italian cookie plate for a party? Well you buy 2 pounds of Italian cookies and put them on a plate. You know what's a good drink you can make? Store bought root beer and store bought ice cream for a root beer float. Or, store bought lemon curd on top of a store bought pound cake. I don't need a book to tell me to go buy a cake. I know that. I have been to stores, I know they sell cake?

The book is divided into sections: . It's a perfectly fine way of organizing recipes, and makes things easier to navigate.

There's a lot of recipes but virtually no pictures. I like having pictures. Although, I've bought cookies before so I guess I mostly know what to expect.

This book wasn't totally useless to me, and there were a few things in here that sounded like they could be good.

This is maybe a good jumping off point for people who are super busy or who are suuuuper new to cooking. But if you've been around the kitchen a time or two, I don't know that you'll find much use for this book.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Stacking the Shelves [114]



Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to show off the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week. If a book catches your eye, *click* the picture to go to the Goodreads page of that book.

It's been awhile but here we go!

In my Inbox





Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh
The Ultimate Ice Cream Cake Book by Kelly Mikolich
Kitchen without Borders by The Eat Offbeat Chefs
The Illustrated Crystallary by Maia Toll
Everyday Bakes to Showstopper Cakes by Mich Turner

It was a surprisingly busy week here for me. Mostly cookbooks! What about you?