Friday, February 27, 2015

Review: Legs - The tale of a meerkat lost and found

Legs - The tale of a meerkat lost and found
Legs - The tale of a meerkat lost and found by Sarah J. Dodd

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book with my fours and a half year old son. We enjoyed the art most and the story was really simple. I would recommend this book for younger children like when my oldest was prone to following his whims and walking off without regard to verbalizing his curiosity; although, not every child who wonders is lucky enough to find a familiar face. This book doesn't really address what to do if you go missing. The best message I received from the book is a reminder of how different the world looks to a little one. For a little one getting them to guess what animal each set of legs belong to might be a good learning activity.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: A Stolen Season

A Stolen Season
A Stolen Season by Tamara Gill

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book captured me from the moment I started it. There were gripping plots scattered throughout and the characters were loveable.​ I didn't read the summary before reading so that I could avoid personal expectations; silly as it may seem, I just went for it (I tend to favor this approach). I was pleasanty surprised with the time travel hook.​ I felt that the time travel rules were scattered and at times unclear; I would have liked more background on the company including the rules Sarah's dad spoke of in the end.​ I also felt some of the transitions between the next plot event were a bit abrupt; enough to make me stop to think and break the imagery of the story unfolding but not my enjoyment.​

I really liked how Eric got the message to encourage her home. I loved how Sarah avoided saying she loved him but as she left she finally allowed herself. I loved how everything resolved and Sarah's dad just wanted her happy at the end of the day. I wish their goodbye wasn't final.

I rarely read a novel or watch a movie twice but I enjoyed this one enough that I probably will.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review: My Stinky New School

My Stinky New School
My Stinky New School by Rebecca Elliott

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a cute book that you just have to admire the imagination of the kids within (if you have boys, maybe it's something to look forward to or reminisce). Often little kids don't like new schools. This would be a great book to demonstrate to your child how a peer might go through the experience and end up finding awesome friends and have a great time; they can discover that a new school is not always a bad thing. I could see this being read to preschoolers and depending how integrated the kindergarten class is with the rest of the school, them as well. This would especially be good for children who are change resistant and need routine stability (like a child with high functioning autism).

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"There is only one way to see things, until someone shows us how to look at them with different eyes." - Pablo Picasso

Very true words I found in a least expected place. I think this is most important to remember when we learn new things or when we talk to another. I also believe that this is harder to do the older we get unless seeing through different eyes is one of your talents.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Review: My Family Tree and Me

My Family Tree and Me
My Family Tree and Me by Dušan Petričić

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book essential reads starting with the great great grandparents on dad's side to the middle of the book then flip the book to read from the back cover to the middle for the same written but for the mother's side. In the middle there is a family photo with three generations (kids, parents, grandparents and various pets).

I liked the idea of this book (I love how both sides of the family read to the middle). To make it clear that one side is paternal and one side is maternal, the paternal side is Caucasian and the maternal side is Asian. I felt like the family photo of everyone was random and hard to explain to my children whereas a family tree diagram with illustrated portraits would have been easier to explain how everyone is related.

I think would have preferred to see this as a template to add your own photos with a family tree diagram in the center. Maybe an app or website to help with the layout and then when finished customizing, I would be able to order the custom book in a hardcover format. I think seeing people you know in this organized way with similar sentences to this book would have been more relevant to my kids.

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sweetly Raw and Turtle Cookies

I'm kinda excited at the moment. I discovered a book called Sweetly Raw by Heather Pace. Like many other raw cookbooks, this one uses uses nuts... and lots of it. This book takes a lot of traditional favorites to make in the raw. I found a recipe for chocolate turtles that I just happen to have all the ingredients for... so unbaking time!

The recipe is in three parts; a cookie, a caramel style spread and a chocolate dip garnished with pecans. At the moment, my food processor needs a new life so I used my vitamix for making the cookie dough which required the use of a tamper. I might have over processed it a smidge... a little bit... okay a fair bit but not enough to render unusable or tasteless... just a bit oily. I rolled the dough and used a small round cookie cutter to make the base. I weighed my ingredients and used a slightly smaller cookie cutter which made 25 cookie bases. After the initial hour dehydrating and a higher temperature (to raise the core temp of the food)... it needs to dehydrate for 30 hours! Oh my...

That was yesterday. Fast forward to today. The next part I plan to blend the spread this afternoon. Sitting in the fridge thickens it making it mound worthy. Then all that's left is making the chocolate to dip in. I will post pictures of the cookies completed when I'm done (Monday morning possibly).

Here are a few highlights of the recipes I'm most interested in trying (although many others look really good as well):

Nanimo Bars
Peppermint Swirl Cheesecake
Keylime Pie Bars
Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
Pecan Preline Ice Cream
Mint Chip Ice Cream
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream Cake
Chocolate-Covered Chewy Toffee
Tiramisu Parfait

You can get remarkable results with the right ingredients. Unfortunately, the ingredients in this book require an investment; luckily, for several of them a little goes a long way. I loved how this book had tons of photos and great visual instructions for certain tasks. Most recipes have an accompanying mouth watering photo.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Books, Books, Books

Lately, I've been hooked on novels. When I was younger, I subscribed to the notion: why read a novel if you could watch the movie? Years later I'm finding I'm enjoying the books more. The point of view achieved in written word drastically changes the feel of the story. Even if a movie happens to follow the book quite nicely, you miss out on all the inner thoughts characters have that drive a story. When you find a good book, the words paint a very vivid picture. I now believe movies make a good supplement. Several of the series I hope to read this year (see at the bottom of this post) actually have movies or tv series in the works.

If you haven't heard of Goodreads, it's great and check it out; kinda like a Facebook for book lovers. There are book clubs with reading challenges galore. You can set and track a yearly reading goal (this year I've set mine to 100). The app has even has a barcode scanner so you can track physical books as well. 

There are so many books to choose from. I've gotten to the point where I do judge a book by is its  cover. Professional covers typically means professional work. 99% of the time if I like the book's cover art, I love what I find within its pages. Something about the colors and design matches the mood I'm in. One of the features I love on Goodreads is Listopia where people make book liststhat follow a particular theme such as stunning dresses on the cover or takes pace in a boarding school (including magical ones). People vote on the ranking of those books in each list so the best make it to the top. It's a great way to find new reads.

If you're into epub format books and organizing your digital library with Calibr, the "Marvin" reading app is fantastic! There is so much customization available (including textured backgrounds, an assortment of fonts and auto night mode which you choose the shade). Every word you define gets added to a word list which is viewable by book or your whole library. You can even view and edit metadata on the go. What I love best is the ability to sync my notes and highlights with calibre so it's always backed up.

The series I hope to tackle this year (and probably the next) in no particular order include:

I'm also pretty excited The Hier comes out May 5th (the fourth book of The Selection series).

Happy Reading!