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Review and Taste Test! Katie Chin’s Everyday Chinese Cookbook by Katie Chin

13 Jul

katiechinKatie Chin’s Everyday Chinese Cookbook: 101 Delicious Recipes from My Mother’s Kitchen
Written by Katie Chin, recipes by Leeann Chin and Katie Chin
Photography by Masano Kawana
Foreword by Raghavan Iyer
160 pages – ages 12+
Published by Tuttle Publishing on April 26, 2016

Publisher’s Synopsis – “Author Katie Chin’s love of cooking blossomed at an early age—watching and later helping her renowned mother, Leeann Chin, prepare delicious Chinese dishes in her popular restaurants. Born in China, Leeann was an award-winning restaurateur and author revered for her ability to demystify Chinese cooking for the American home cook. Katie inherited her mom’s passion and talent, and has become a respected food writer and television personality in her own right. Sadly, Leeann passed away in 2010, but her recipes live on. Katie is eager to share her mother’s food legacy with you in this book—an homage to Leeann’s mastery of all that Chinese cooking has to offer.
This treasury of family recipes includes many unique dishes that Leeann developed during a six-decade career in the food business, including time-honored classics that she herself learned from her mother in China. Some dishes reflect Leeann’s Chinese-American childhood or are recipes which Katie and Leeann developed while together. Others are creations that Katie has developed more recently. Woven throughout the book are fond memories and anecdotes from Katie’s childhood, always involving cooking and eating with her mom.”

What I Thought- First, I just want to say that the reason I suggested ages 12+ for this book is just because that is around the age where I think it is reasonable to start cooking without omnipresent supervision (of course, this is up to the parents). These recipes can be made by younger kids, but parental supervision should be present throughout the cooking. That being said, the book is an excellent cookbook, with clear instructions. I liked that Ms. Chin did not assume that the reader/cook already knew information, including things such as “Basic Cooking Techniques and Tips” and “Understanding Chinese Ingredients” so the reader/cook is not left in the dark. All of the back material was very interesting and is a great help in learning to cook Chinese food. The recipes themselves are easy to read, and include simple ways to cook and prepare the food. The anecdotes into Ms. Chin, her mother, and how she gets her kids to eat things like mushrooms and spinach really make the book more personal. The book is filled with great color photos of the steps and finished dishes. This was a great cookbook!

I give this book five out of five bookworms! fivebooks

Knowing me, you probably aren’t surprised that I decided to cook something with my family from the cookbook. We chose to make the “Crystal Shrimp Dumplings” found on page 30-31. My sister Josie helped make the dumplings too.

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We started by making the filling with cilantro, egg white, cornstarch, sugar, pepper and sesame oil.

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We prepared the shrimp as it said in the cookbook so it won’t taste “fishy.”

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We minced the shrimp in a food processor and added it to the filling mix.

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Then it was time to fill the dumplings.

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I don’t think our wrap job was as pretty as the ones in the book – but pretty good for beginners!

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Next we cooked the dumplings!

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YUM!!!

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They were delicious! The soy sauce had balsamic vinegar in it, and it gave it a nice citrus-y flavor somehow. Ms. Chin really knows how to make a meal!

Review! The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery

31 May

soulThe Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness

By Sy Montgomery

272 pages – ages 14+

Published by Atria Books on May 12, 2015

Synopsis- What makes you think? What makes you have your own thought process, that is different from all other animals? Wait. What if animals do think? How could we tell? Sy Montgomery was determined to find the answer – and to look in the most unlikely place: an octopus. Could these creatures really have an independent, unique thought process?

What I Thought- This was an interesting book. I was given it as a gift and at first I wasn’t really jazzed about reading a nonfiction book about octopuses – but I gave it a try. As I was reading, I felt that the book was enlightening. I was seeing things in a different perspective. The book is a chronicle of Ms. Montgomery’s experiences with octopuses, and how they are different from us, yet similar in so many ways. I found that I enjoyed it thoroughly. Montgomery’s writing style has an enjoyable flow to it. She mixes science with narration and spins it into a story-like product that kept me entranced. The text itself brings up a lot of questions  that are thought-provoking, and makes you appreciate the odd lifeforms that are octopuses.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! To Stay Alive by Skila Brown

9 May

stayaliveTo Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party

By Skila Brown

304 pages – ages 12+

Will be published by Candlewick on October 11, 2016

Synopsis- It was 1846, and Mary Ann Graves was 19 when her father and her entire family decided to move west. Her 21-year-old sister (and her husband) were coming as well. They had to go from Illinois all the way to California. They would see most of the country as they traveled through the land. They met up with several other families when they were traveling, including the Reed family, and the Donner family. All they need to do is make it through the infamous Rocky Mountains before it snows…

What I Thought- This was a slightly disturbing book. It is a historical fiction of the infamous Donner Party, and for the most part it was telling the story of their journey westward. The novel-in-verse format is interesting, and makes it a rather fast read. It was odd reading the part where they started eating the dead flesh (which honestly, didn’t bother me – some consider it a valid survival technique (when there is nothing else, of course)) – it was the part where they started killing the weaker travelers for food that grossed me out a little, but it is part of history and needs to be told. That aside, the book was very good, and I enjoyed reading about the journey westward. Ms. Brown’s poems stir an emotional impact with the reader, while still telling of the lives of the families going west. I liked that she included an Epilogue, Author’s Note, and a list of the members of the Donner Party, with facts as to what happened afterward, during, and other such things. All-in-all, a very compelling read with solid writing and having it in verse makes the story even more surreal. I’d just recommend for a more mature kid-reader.

I give this book five out of five bookworms.fivebooks

Review! The Rampart Guards by Wendy Terrien

24 Feb

I am part of a virtual book tour today and I am very excited to tell you about this book because this is one that the story really stuck with me.

THE RAMPART GUARDS will be published this Friday, February 26th!

RampartGuards_CVR_MED

Here is the publisher’s summary – After his mom disappears, Jason Lex and his family move to a small town where he has no friends, no fun, no life. Things get worse when he’s chased  by weird flying creatures that only he can see—Jason thinks he’s losing it. But when Jason discovers new information about his family, he’s stunned  to learn that creatures like Skyfish, Kappa, and the Mongolian Death Worm aren’t just stories on the Internet—they’re real and they live unseen  longside the human race. Many of these creatures naturally emit energy capable of incinerating humans. An invisible shield keeps these creatures  hidden and protects the human race from their threatening force, but someone, or some thing , is trying to destroy it. Unsure who he can trust, Jason  is drawn into the fight to save the people closest to him, and he finds help in surprising places. Confronted with loss, uncertainty, and a devastating betrayal, Jason must make a gut-wrenching decision: Who lives, and who dies.

The series is a planned trilogy, but Ms. Terrien has an interesting concept for the next book:

The series will continue with three more books. Terrien plans to simultaneously release book two in two parts – telling different stories, but told concurrently – and will conclude the trilogy with the final chapter told from the point of view of two of her main characters.

 

WHO IS THIS WENDY TERRIEN?

Wendy Terrien

Wendy Terrien has been writing stories since she was in grade school. Her debut novel The Rampart Guards (February 26, 2016) is the first in her   intriguing urban fantasy series. Inspired by an episode of B ones that suspected a killer to be a fabled chupacabra, Wendy was fascinated and dove into  research about cryptozoology – the study of animals that may or may not exist, or cryptids. Pouring over stories, videos and photographs of  creatures others had seen all over the world, Wendy developed her own story to share with middle grade, young adult and grown-up readers.

Wendy lives in Colorado with her husband Kevin and their three dogs: Maggie, Shea and Boon. All three of her dogs are rescues and Wendy is  passionate about promoting shelter adoptions. If you’re ever in Colorado, you may even be able to spot her by her “Adopt a Shelter Pet” license plates.

 

ON TO MY REVIEW!

 

RampartGuards_CVR_MEDThe Rampart Guards
By Wendy Terrien
268 pages – ages 12+
Published by Camashea Press on February 26, 2016

Synopsis- Jason’s life has taken a turn for the worse – his mom disappeared. They sold their house and moved to a small town where everyone knows everything and everyone. The town’s crazy guy just so happens to be his uncle that he never knew existed. And there are these things that only Jason can see. But what if the things, the cryptids, are only on the edge of our reality? And what if they were at the point of breaking through the invisible barrier? And what if that would kill every human?

What I Thought- I absolutely loved this book! Ms. Terrien has written a book that rivets you to your seat – I read this book in about 2 hours, not that it was short or an easy read but it was that good! The plot just hooks you right in. Jason’s mother is missing, presumably dead. He moves. He’s seeing things. He’s got a loony uncle. Life’s bad on him. But throw in the fact that his mother may not be dead… and you understand why Jason is unsure of what to do. Jason’s character is one I identified with immediately. I love stories with great characters. The fact that there are “real-life” cryptids used throughout the book is fun. The book is being marketed for middle grade and young adult, I’d say it leans more towards early YA than middle grade. The story is pretty dark and intense for middle grade and there is a fair amount of language (nothing bad, but h***, s***, a**, and d***, with allusions to f***). Terrien’s writing skills shine through as she skates between the two worlds she created in the novel. The fantastic possibility of alternate realities comes to life in this exciting adventurous paranormal roller-coaster of a story! Sign me up for book two!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! The Legend Comes To Life by Debbie Brown

16 Feb

amethyst2The Legend Comes To Life

By Debbie Brown

228 pages  – ages 12+

Published by Howling Wolf / Ravenswood Publishing on October 25, 2014

Synopsis- Tommy has been living with his father on the Phoenix for three years now, and is starting his cadet training. The Phoenix is an interplanetary vessel that helps worlds in danger of natural extinction and helps colonize other planets. When a new botanist named Fardoc destroys the arboretum where they contain plant life, and injures Tommy as well, something is awry. But then other things happen that make it seems that there is a plot to undo the Phoenix’s work. Things like Tommy’s father, the commander, returning unconscious. What if Fardoc isn’t just a jerk, but something much worse?

What I Thought- I liked this story. It captured the feel of the first book (see my review HERE) perfectly. The science-fiction world is believable, and I felt like I could live in it. Tommy is a character other teens can relate to. Not only is he adapting to a world that he’s not used to, but he’s also changing it for the better while learning about being the leader. What I like about the book is that even though Tommy is 18, the book is still appropriate for 12-year-olds. Ms. Brown has a writing style that engages you. The plot has a lot of twists and turns and action that keep you on the edge of your beanbag chair. There is a lot of mystique happening throughout the book. I really hope that there is a book 3, and that it is as fun as this!

I give this five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt

12 Oct

letterkingThe Letter for the King

Written by Tonke Dragt

Translated from Dutch by Laura Watkinson

528 pages – ages 12+

Published by David Fickling Books on August 25th, 2015

(Originally published in Dutch in 1962)

Synopsis- From The Publisher: “Sixteen-year-old Tiuri must spend hours locked in a chapel in silent contemplation if he is to be knighted the next day. But as he waits by the light of a flickering candle, he hears a knock at the door and a voice desperately asking for help.

A secret letter must be delivered to King Unauwen across the Great Mountains–a letter upon which the fate of the entire kingdom depends. Tiuri has a vital role to play, one that might cost him his knighthood. He must trust no one. He must keep his true identity secret. Above all, he must never reveal what is in the letter . . .

Tiuri’s journey will take him through dark, menacing forests, across treacherous rivers, to sinister castles and strange cities. He will encounter evil enemies who would kill to get the letter, but also the best of friends in the most unexpected places.”

What I Thought- I love books with a medieval setting like this. When done correctly, they can really insert you into the story line. Ms. Dragt does a great job of creating a realistic world with a code of chivalry. There are pretty neat black-and-white sketches for the different sections of the book. I really enjoyed the story. Tiuri is a marvelous character who you connected with. He is *this* close to becoming a knight, but, by doing the right thing, may lose his entire chance to become a doer of good, full-time. You feel for him, as he is conflicted by this question of character. Ms. Dragt is a masterful author, and Ms. Watkinson did a great job translating it into English. I really recommend this book to everyone who likes a good coming-of-age book!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Confessions of an Imaginary Friend by Michelle Cuevas

24 Sep

jackieConfessions of an Imaginary Friend – a memoir by Jacques Papier

As told to Michelle Cuevas

176 pages – ages 9+

Published by Dial Books on Dial Books, September 8, 2015

Synopsis- Somewhere in France, there lived an evil wiener dog named François. In François’ house, there lived a young girl named Fleur Papier, and she had a twin brother named Jacques. This book is about Jacques. Jacques is a good brother. Polite, fun, imaginative, and so much more. That is, until Jacques accidentally overhears his parents talking and learns that… Fleur has an imaginary friend. How could she have one, and if anything, not tell him? That wasn’t a nice thing! Well, two can play at that game. But when Jacques’ imaginary friend is huge, and takes up a lot of room, his parents yell out that an imaginary friend having an imaginary friend was “too much imagination” – and that was saying a lot, as they work in the imagination business. Wait. What? Can it be true? That Jacques is… An imaginary friend? Jacques soon realizes it is true, but he has a hard time adjusting. What if that by finding out he was an imaginary friend ends up driving him away from Fleur?

What I Thought- This was an amazing book about learning who you really are. Jacques (who we thinks is based off of Jackie Paper from Puff the Magic Dragon) is a memorable character who tugs at your heart strings. You really feel for him as he realizes that he is really his “sister’s” imaginary friend. The sad thing is, she didn’t even know he was imaginary! At least it explains how no one paid attention to him. Imagine if you were ignored all of your life, and then suddenly find out that you aren’t real. There are some simple illustrations in the book that add a lot to the story. I would really recommend this book to anyone looking for a really meaningful story that makes you think. I think that this book is good for an older audience (at least 12+), as they will get the impact behind it, but the story is all clean, and good for younger kids.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

 

Review! Headwinds by Gretchen K. Wing

22 Sep

headwindsHeadwinds

Series: The Flying Burgowski (Book #2)

By Gretchen K.Wing

288 pages – ages 12+

Published by Madrona Branch Press on November 24th, 2014

Synopsis- The Flying Burgowski…flies…again! Jocelyn Burgowski is pretty happy. Her mom is back on Dalby Island, her brother Michael is [mostly] nice to her, and she flies on an almost regularly basis. What can go wrong? Well, Jocelyn’s mom is (pretty much) seen, as she was forced to land on her boss’ roof. Then at Joss’ birthday party, Michael goes, and tries to fly by jumping off of a cliff. He lives, but is pretty messed up, and in the hospital. Add the fact that there is at least one person on Dalby Island from a strange, ancient cult that was formed pretty much for the purpose of grounding Flyers like Jocelyn and her mom, and Jocelyn has no idea what is going on with her life. There is only a small amount of people on Dalby, but a lot of suspects…

What I Thought- This was a great book! The adventure is fun, and really nails pretty realistically the life of a teenager (even with a flying teenager). The second book in the series catches the reader right up with what is going on. Ms. Wing has a great writing style that really brings you into the story and lets you visualize the setting. You feel for Jocelyn as she is trying to figure out who is trying to bring the Flyers down. Her character is believable and well-developed. The book has a thrilling plot that keeps you on the edge of your beanbag chair (which is a hard thing). I really hope that there is a book three, but this book ended well giving the reader a satisfying feeling.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Everyday Bento by Wendy Thorpe Copley

8 Apr

bentoEveryday Bento: 50 Cute and Yummy Lunches To Go

By Wendy Thorpe Copley

120 pages – ages 12+

Published by Tuttle Publishing on March 4, 2014

Synopsis- Do you know the way to make a quick, healthy, and fun lunch that looks nice? Well, if not, have you ever tried bento? You don’t know what bento means? Bento is a Japanese style meal that is packed into a box and able to be taken along with you. This book gives you simple recipes on how to make bento box meals with American items and a lot of fun!

What I Thought- This was a nice recipe book. Ms. Copley has written a comprehensive guide to making bento boxes for the beginners.  The recipes are simple and really easy to understand. This isn’t really a kids book but I bet any kid would love to get packed lunches like this!

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Plus it makes a great parent kids activity – making great lunches! The book covers the basics and the tools you might want to get to make the fun shapes and molds. Some of the recipes are more complicated than others, and would take more time to make, but you can get some great ideas from it. There are easy-to-follow instructions and pictures. All in all, this is a really nice book! We (meaning mom and me) used some of the things we had around the house and the pictures and guides from the book and created a bento box lunch! How did we do?

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I give “Everyday Bento” four out of five bookworms!fourbooks

Check out the Every Day Bento website for ideas and video tutorials! Click HERE

Multicultural Children’s Book Day! Review – The Call of Distant Drums by William Pisani

26 Jan

Tomorrow is the second annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day and I am a MCCBD reviewer! WOO!

#WeNeedDiverseBooks

MCCBD was created “to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature.”  Make sure to read to the end of my review to see how you can participate!

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I got to review and AMAZING book for MCCBD! I am very happy to tell you about it.

Ththecalle Call of Distant Drums

By William Pisani

212 pages – ages 8-12+

Published by JoNa Books Publishing Company on September 1, 2005

Synopsis- From the back of the book: “The fierce Blackfoot — Blood. Never defeated in battle by the white man. But how much longer could they continue to roam free in the ancestral lands they had long held sacred.”

What I Liked- This is not a book of action. This is a book of reflection and thoughts. Sure, there is still action, but what makes this book wonderful is that it inspires pondering within you. The main character is an elderly Native American who had become adopted into the Blackfoot tribe when his people were marched to a reservation but he had escaped. Now that his life is almost done, and because his family has passed on, he has decided to migrate back to his homelands, like the spawning salmon. The story reflects his traveling and facing spirits in his way. Along the way, the man thinks back upon his life. I found the book overall just incredible. Mr. Pisani’s writing style draws you into the mind of the main character. The story  is compelling and is very believable and seems to be very well researched. Mr. Pisani captures the feel of the Native American nations and their beliefs. He shares their heart-break over the loss of their tribal lands. The story is very moving. I think that kids 8+ would like the book, but to really appreciate the story, I’d recommend it to kids 12 and older.

This is an example of a book where I wish my rating scale went higher.fivebooks

Here are some ways you can help us celebrate Multicultural Children’s Book Day: 

  • Visit The Multicultural Children’s Book Day website and view the book lists, reading resources and other useful multicultural information.
  • Visit the Multicultural Books for Kids Pinterest Board for more reading ideas.
  • Have children bring in their favorite multicultural book to school on this day and share it with the class.
  • Watch for the #ReadYourWorld hashtag on social media and share. They are hosting a Twitter party! Join them on Jan 27th 9:00pm EST. Use hashtag: #ReadYourWorld to win 10 book packages.
  • Visit the Diversity Book Lists and Resources for Educators and Parents on their website.
  • Visit MCCBD sponsors. You can find them HERE
  • Connect with them on their new Facebook and Twitter  pages.

MCCBD SPONSORS:

Platinum Sponsors: Wisdom Tales Press, Daybreak Press Global Bookshop

Gold SponsorsSatya House,  MulticulturalKids.com,   Author Stephen Hodges and the Magic Poof

Silver Sponsors: Junior Library GuildCapstone Publishing, Lee and Low Books,  The Omnibus Publishing

Bronze Sponsors:Double Dutch Dolls, Bliss Group Books, Snuggle with Picture Books Publishing,  Rainbow Books,   Author FeliciaCapers,   Chronicle Books,   Muslim Writers Publishing,   East West Discovery Press

Platinum Sponsor Wisdom Tales Press is hosting a book giveaway on their website that anyone can enter! The winner will receive 6 Wisdom Tales Books of their choice!

Visit the Multicultural Books for Kids Pinterest Board!

You can subscribe to a newsletter about Multicultural Children’s Book Day, too!

Don’t forget to check out the Multicultural Children’s Book Day blog (click HERE to go THERE)!

MAKE SURE TO JOIN THE TWITTER PARTY ! Join the party and win book packages! Join us for Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Party on Jan 27th 9:00pm EST. Use hashtag: #ReadYourWorld to win 10 book packages! This Twitter Party is hosted by Co-Founders Mia Wenjen (@Pragmaticmom) and Valarie Budayr (@JumpIntoaBook1). You can review the Twitter Party Prizes on the MCCBD blog here.

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