Thursday, August 21, 2014
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Father son books are always interesting to read because depending on the age of their son there is always some subtle tension in the relationship. For young sons the father prods his progeny, trying to get him to be a better player, athlete etc. Older sons, in trying to carve their own niche and explore their individuality are often at loggerheads with their fathers. In this book, the relationship is somewhere in between.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
|Not the US cover, but I prefer this one.|
And in the middle of all this someone has finally created the ultimate chemical weapon, one with a really nasty bigoted edge to it, that's about to be launched via the winds of the coming storm. There's only one lone, retired local ex-spy who has figured it all out... but can he stop it from happening?
Hurricane Fever is, for me, the perfect spy-thriller-action-adventure-beach-read. It's a summer movie in a book, well-written, and at just under 275 pages proof that the compelling story full of character and suspense can be achieved without the unnecessary bloat of, say, a Clancy doorstop.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
The Green Teen Cookbook, edited by Laurane Marchive and Pam McElroy, is both a cookbook and a resource for thinking about and shopping for food. The first of the book includes essays/articles on things like how to eat healthfully and/or seasonally, eating organic foods, levels of vegetarianism, how to be a locavore, and what fairtrade means. Between the title and the first chapter, I expected it to be a vegetarian cookbook, but it isn't-- it includes all sorts of recipes, including some for meat, chicken, and fish. All of the recipes focus on the use of fresh foods.
The second chapter includes recipe for making staples such as mayonnaise, pesto, salsa, and chicken or vegetable stock, and more. It also has a non-staple in the form of chocolate spread (not called Nutella, but still...) The remainder of the book is organized into sections by meal types: Breakfast & Brunch; Soups, Salads & Sandwiches; Snacks & Sides; Main Courses; and Desserts. Each recipe submitted by a teen includes a picture of the teen cook at the top of the page, along with a quote about the recipe and why they like making it or recommend it.
The selections include everything from simple dishes like French toast, Green Salad, or Apple Chips to more sophisticated or involved recipes. As a long-time cook and follower of recipes, I found myself wishing that some of the recipes had been proofed better or written just a bit more clearly. The "Summer Lasagna" comes to mind (not, apparently, a teen recipe), where the recipe calls for mozzarella, but doesn't specify that it should be shredded mozzarella, although on reading and re-reading the recipe, it became obvious that was probably what was intended (you mix it with ricotta, and mixing unshredded mozzarella is either impossible or inadvisable. That said, the variety of dishes is excellent, and the personal introductions by the teen chefs who donated the recipes are inspiring -- they explain where they learned to make the dish, or why they like making or eating it. Each recipe also comes with a photograph of the finished dish, and some come with additional "quick tips", like the one for crepes, which says that "Your first crepe will most likely not  be perfect but don't worry, you will get the hang of it."
Here's a photo of what a two-page spread in the book looks like. It features recipes for "Chicken with Ginger and Broccoli", supplied by Dong Tran, and "Chili Con Carne", from Clare Gosling.
A great book for teens wanting to start cooking or start their own cookbook collections.
Monday, August 11, 2014
Friday, August 8, 2014
Wild Things! “You make my heart sing. You make everything groovy.”
And why not? This is a book full of quirky stories, little-known information, and heaps of authorial personality. What else would you expect from Betsy Bird, Jules Danielson, & Peter D. Sieruta? It covers topics such as art in books, and includes a sketch from The Paper Bag Princess in which the princess has obviously clocked the odious Ronald). It discusses LGBT authors (including Louise Fitzhugh, who wrote Harriet the Spy), characters, and issues in books and how far that topic has come over the years (or hasn’t, as some authors find themselves disinvited or marginalized, regardless of whether they themselves are gay or straight). It covers censorship and book banning (which ones and why – some of which is hilarious for how off-base it seems), along with some issues of censorship based on racism that actually sound a bit right (think of the horrifying descriptions of Native Americans in some of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books or some of the words used to describe people of color over the years).
And then there’s the chapter on celebrity books, which gets things just right in the epigraph, a quote by Jane Yolen: “I’m getting out my pointy bra and brushing up on my singing and dancing, because there’s no good pop music out there.” As the chapter points out, what “celebrity book” often means is something with almost no content, or something with a preachy message, which would have been shot down if it had been submitted by an author who was not a celebrity. Thank you, Betsy, Jules, and Peter, for articulating the exact issue.
There are more chapters, too. Such as the books that kids love but critics hate, and books as big business, and more. And all of it is well-researched and delivers the sort of story and content that will delight and surprise, as well as entertain and motivate.
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Ok, you can't be blamed for your lousy outlook. Not your fault. Still, as my mother used to say, if you keep making that sour face it will get stuck that way and if you keep reading this depressing stuff you are only going to sink deeper and deeper into gloom.
There's an alternative, a cure, for your mood, if not for the world. While little of it has found its way to YA, in adult sci-fi there is a concurrent trend with a more hopeful and longer range vision for humanity.