Saturday, February 29, 2020

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.



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

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.



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.



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

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.



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?



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.



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.



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.



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.



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!



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?