Archive for the 'Reviews' Category

Donal Skehan is a Good Mood Food Dude

I just tried to e-file my taxes and I am steaming mad and hating the government for making me fear that if I confuse something, they will drag me from my bed and shoot me in the town square. I totally did my own and Steve’s taxes a few years ago, but for some reason I am all baffled by the freefile software this year–it keeps not letting me do what I think I need it to do, and it won’t show me the instructions so I can look anything up (so I keep having to go back to irs.gov which we all know is not the most user-friendly website ever created), and I have a sneaking suspicion that, once I get everything filled in, the form will not send because I am not using the right browser or something. Whatever, I am going to H&R Block tomorrow. Oh great. now the fish tank filter is buzzing which I FIND TO BE THE MOST ANNOYING SOUND IN THE WORLD. I am not in a good mood.

so I need some Good Mood Food.

Hurrah! that was my segway into a post about the adorable Irish Food Blogger/Chef, Donal Skehan!

Yup, he is a very lovely chap! But that is soo not why I checked his cookbook out from the library. First, I liked how the title words all rhymed. And then I thought it was really really funny that the blurb on the cover said “Ireland’s answer to Jaime Oliver.” FINALLY, IRELAND! WE HAD BEEN WAITING FOR YOUR RESPONSE! and then I actually thought the food looked simple AND good AND interesting. and then I actually made a few of the recipes (Perfect Parmesan Parsnips! Steve made the more difficult items like the Paella. Yup, Steve is a Skehan fan, too!) and not until then did I realize he had a dreamy smile ūüôā

If I was putting a blurb on his cookbook, I would write “The food industry’s answer to James McAvoy.”

I feel a little better now even without having actually eaten anything! alllllthough, I am just going to nip into the kitchen and have a bit of chocolate before bedfordshire. Prof. Lupin recommends it.

-Amber

Axe Cop is super funny.

“I wish for Abraham Lincoln to be my wife.” –Axe Cop

stumbled across the webcomic, Axe Cop, a few weeks and am totally in love with it! The storyline is written by a 6 year old boy, so you know, BEST THING EVER. He, Malachai, narrates it it to his 30 year old brother, Ethan, who illustrates the comic and sometimes prompts with questions like “and how did Axe cop and Dinosaur Soldier find the evil lab of uni-baby?”

So the website is fun, but I just bought the first print version of Axe Cop for the library’s graphic collection and it is so adorable because the big brother added little notes explaining what he thought was going through his little bro’s head during the spark of creation ūüôā For instance, during Ask Axe Cop #24, Ethan tried giving Malachai some background on info on Abraham Lincoln, but apparently Malachai just couldn’t shake his initial feeling that Pres. Lincoln was girl–this is just the kind of joke where coming from anyone older would seem like they were trying too hard, but coming from a kid who really thought Abe was a girl, and then allowing someone to correct him, but still manipulating the story so it comes back round to Axe Cop marrying Pres. Lincoln? pure brainwork.

-Amber

The Beautiful Between: A Review

I recently picked up a book from the library – The Beautiful Between by Alyssa B. Sheinmel.¬† Liz B over at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy reviewed it a few weeks ago and it piqued my interest.¬† I guess I kind of forgot what Liz B had said in her review, because I was totally expecting a paranormal story.¬† I just reread the review and though she doesn’t come out and say it’s not paranormal, she does say there are no ghosts or vampires (so of course that means it’s about witches and vampires, right??).¬† To be honest, I was about halfway through the book and I was still waiting for the main character, Connelly, to be all SURPRISE MY MOM IS A WITCH YO!

It finally dawned on me that, no, there is nothing supernatural in this book.  I think it took so long for me to figure this out because Connelly kept describing how she thought of her school in fairy tale terms, like how Jeremy Cole was the crown prince, the popular people were the royalty, the others were just the townspeople hoping to be given an audience with the royals (i.e. hoping to sit with the popular kids at lunch).  Also Connelly would talk about her imagined fairy godmother who would walk home from school with her and help her to fall asleep.  That and she tended to think of herself as Rapunzel Рnot a princess, but still a fairy tale character.

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, especially since I found out that Jen likes to go blindly into books.¬† So I won’t tell you how Connelly and Jeremy become friends or even why.¬† I will tell you however, that this book is beautiful in a very quiet way.¬† In rereading Liz B’s review, she says that this book is in the best way quiet.¬† And honestly as soon as I finished this book, the first thing that I thought was that this book was so quietly beautiful.¬† It sounds like a weird way to describe a book, but truthfully I think it’s the best way.¬† I only wish I could have gone into this book blindly so that I could have appreciated it sooner.¬† If I hadn’t been waiting for a witch or something to pop out at me I think I would have liked the book even more.¬† I blame myself for that one.

As for the characters – I wish I could insert myself into the book so that I could be Connelly’s friend.¬† She really reminds me of my high school friend Jessica – friendly, quiet, not exactly outgoing, but game for anything.¬† The kind of person that makes an awesome friend.¬† Plus we totally could have hung out together while we read books and sat around wrapped in blankets and drinking hot chocolate.¬† Connelly never actually does this in the book, but you just know she totally does it off the page.

Jeremy seemed like a nice guy, but at the same time I feel like he’d be really hard to befriend.¬† He’s kind of like Connelly in that he’s friendly to everyone, but he’s more outgoing.¬† That’s why Connelly sees him as the prince.¬† Everyone likes him not just because his family is one of the most affluent in NYC, but because he’s genuinely nice to everyone.¬† Not that that means he’s friends with everyone – he’s very selective of his friends.¬† I get the feeling that he chooses his friends with a purpose (or maybe that’s because we only see his friendship with Connelly).¬† I get the sense that he’s actually only real friends with Connelly and his little sister, Kate.

Speaking of Kate, she’s not in this book too much.¬† Sometimes I felt like some of the interaction between Kate and Connelly seemed a bit forced, but I feel weird saying that because Kate wasn’t your regular 12 year old little sister.¬† And even though I felt some of the dialogue sounded weird, I still really loved Kate.¬† I wish there had been more Kate in the book.

To close out this review, I am going to take a stab at a casting call like the gals over at FYA (the best YA site EVER).

Connelly:¬† When I was describing Connelly I said that she reminded me of my high school friend, Jessica.¬† That made me think of a House episode a few years ago where a girl was overweight even though she exercised all the time and took diet pills and it turned out it was like a tumor or something.¬† Anyways, that girl’s name was Jessica and in my head I went, hey that’s kind of what Connelly looks like in my head.¬† So I googled House and Jessica and it turns out that it was Jennifer Stone!¬† I love Jennifer Stone in Wizards of Waverly Place!¬† I didn’t love her in that horrible Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars movie, but that wasn’t her fault!¬† Did you hear me Jennifer?!¬† In my head there is no Blog Wars movie, I won’t hold it against you.¬† It wasn’t your fault the movie was so terrible!¬† As I was saying, I love Jennifer Stone as Harper on WoWP.¬† She’s so crazy and funny, but I think she could be a really good Connelly too.¬† Jennifer’s a terrific actress.

Jeremy Cole: Ok, I totally know that William Moseley is British and maybe a bit too old to play a 16/17 year old.¬† But when I try to picture this gentlemanly and princely teenager who is cute and awesome, I picture Peter Pevensie.¬† So there you get William Moseley.¬† I would replace this picture with another one because now that I’ve got it up his face looks a little strange, but I like his expression.¬† It says “You totally want to be my friend because I’m awesome and even though I just said I was awesome I’m still humble” or something like that.

Have you read The Beautiful Between?  What are your thoughts?

<3, lindsay

Why Amber didn’t do the 48-Hour Book Challenge Either

1. Last weekend, I stumbled upon the final episode (well, it was one of the Specials really) of the VICAR OF DIBLEY–MY NEW FAVORITEST SHOW. So I put all the DVDs on hold on at the library when I got to work on Tuesday, and they arrived for me on Friday meaning allllllllll weekend (when I have not been shopping for Velvet ribbon with Mom or playing Kickball with Steve) I have been watching pure loveliness such as this:

***first thing I think about when watching any British show or movie: who was he/she in the Harry Potter films??? In the case of Dibley, it was Dawn French’s voice that caught my attention…She was the Fat Lady!!!

Owen looked awfully familiar, too, although I couldn’t remember so I had to look him up–He was Barty Crouch! Haha, and apparently Cecil will be Kreacher in both Deathly Hallows!

2. Also, I totally forgot about the #48hbc until this week so I felt a little panicked to come up with a reading plan! Books that I would have read if I had done the challenge: Heist Society by Ally Carter, The Westing Game by Ellen Ranskin, and The Magic Thief: Found by Sarah Prineas. I just finished The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee which was EXCELLENT, but Jen already told you that ūüėČ

Amber

My whole life revolves around Shark vs. Train right now…

Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton and Tom Lichtenheld

It has been months since I have bought a picture book for myself (I think the last one I bought was this amazing version of There was an Old Lady by Jeremy Holmes) but last night I bought myself TWO! and the cashier at Borders totally made some joke about me buying them for myself which got me all flustered because I was buying them for myself… Anyway so I bought myself a copy of Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don’t) by Barbara Bottner and Michael Emberley because that book is crazy adorable and I’m a wannabe Children’s Librarian–I totally envy Miss Brook’s and all the kids’ literary costumes! and best line: “When I get home, I ask my mother if we can move to a new town. My mothers says there is a librarian in every town.”

AND I ALSO BOUGHT MYSELF SHARK VS. TRAIN BY CHRIS BARTON AND TOM LICHTENHELD BECAUSE IT IS THE AWESOMEST BOOK EVERRRR! because seriously, I think we have all asked our selves at one time or another: Who would win in this situation??? the shark?? or the train???? My money is on a Giant Sloth.

I think I will make my own Amber vs. Steve book…I would totally win if it was a dance contest, a math bee, or recognizing young Disney Channel stars… Wouldn’t that be a cute little Wedding Zine?! But seriously I probably won’t do it so I hope somebody else reads this and makes one for their wedding…

amber

Gosh Junior High sucked…but Smile by Raina Telgemeier is FANTASTIC

Smile by Raina TelgemeierAll nerdgirls should read Raina Telgemeier’s autobiographical graphic novel, Smile, about her preteen and teen years when she had to deal with a painful injury and numerous dental surgeries! I know, F-U-N, right??? But it is positively ADORABLE and so on target. I never had an accident to make my teeth horrible–they just grew in that way and I was soooo embarrassed by them. So I was pretty relieved when I finally got braces in 7th grade, although I quickly learned how much they suck…

But this story is not really about teeth–it is about nerdgirls being awkward and blushing and standing up for themselves and finding other nerdy people to be friends with. I just want to give Raina a hug! (Unlike the Wimpy Kid who I usually just want to duct tape his mouth shut… I shouldn’t say that. I have only read the first book. and the movie does look pretty cute…) Check out the lovely trailer Raina made for her book: oh and does the music sound familiar??? Yeah, it is by HARRY AND THE POTTERS!

All this talking-about-teeth will probably make me have my usual nightmare about my teeth getting all jumbled and falling out…but reading this book was so worth it.

amber

Pretty Little Liars: A Review

Continuing from last night’s review of Incarceron, I thought I’d go ahead and review another book that I’ve been meaning to tell you all about for quite some time!

Pretty Little Liars! by Sara Shepard.

I had seen this book cover in bookstores for ever! ¬†But I never picked it up because it had a barbie doll on the cover and I had already gone through my Gossip Girl and The Clique phases, so I wasn’t about to pick up another book that looked like it was in the same vein. ¬†But oh my gosh guys, I am so hooked on this series! ¬†I’m so lucky to have stumbled upon this book over at Harper Teen. ¬†They have a great feature on their website where you can browse inside books and even read whole books online! ¬†And that’s what I did with Pretty Little Liars! ¬†I read the whole thing online. ¬†I was pretty much hooked from like chapter 3 on.

There are seven books out right now. ¬†The eighth book in the series comes out in June and I hope to be caught up by then! ¬†I’ve been checking them out from the library – they’re popular books as I’m waiting for the fifth book – Wicked – to be delivered to my branch. ¬†Oh my gosh guys, these books are like drugs for me. ¬†As soon as I get home from the library I crack open the book and don’t put it down until I’m done. ¬†I actually have never read one of these books in less than a couple of hours because I can’t do anything else until I’ve finished. ¬†I’ve put in a few late nights in the past couple of weeks. ¬†

So a quick overview – the series focuses on four girls: Spencer, Aria, Emily and Hanna. ¬†They used to be best friends along with another girl, Ali. ¬†On the last night of seventh grade, they had a sleepover. ¬†Ali and Spencer had a fight and Ali decided to leave. ¬†No one ever saw Ali again. ¬†Fast forward to the beginning of junior year. ¬†The girls are no longer friends, although no one would say they were enemies. ¬†Aria had moved away to Iceland before high school and is now back, she’s kind of a free spirit/weirdo. ¬†Spencer is the high strung overachiever who’s always competing with her older sister for her parents’ approval and love. ¬†Emily is the sweet girl who’s a state champion swimmer. ¬†Hanna is the chubby girl turned queen bee. ¬†

The girls start off their junior year with mysterious text messages, notes and emails from a mysterious A who knows secrets that Ali alone knew.  So is Ali still out there, watching their every moves, or is someone playing impostor?  And if so, how??

What I’m about to write makes me think about what I wrote last night. ¬†About how the reason I think that Incarceron failed to captivate is because you don’t feel for the characters or their relationships. ¬†In sharp contrast to that book, Pretty Little Liars has you rooting for these girls. ¬†I cared about all of them and wanted everything to work out for them. ¬†I wanted them to confide in each other, so that they could have someone to lean on. ¬†Spencer’s relationship with her family made me want to cry even though I knew Spencer was not completely innocent. ¬†I cringed at moments with Aria. ¬†I felt disgust for Emily’s parents (although I can’t remember if that was in the first book, or later, or even all throughout the books I’ve read so far). ¬†I’ve wanted to cry with Hanna over her situations and scream at her for being so stupid. ¬†This is what makes a book good people!

I also had very distinct pictures of the settings and the characters in my head, so the story ran along smoothly in my head. ¬†There was no time when I stopped and thought to myself, now what does that look like? ¬†It’s not exactly that I was told what it looked like, more that it was described in the kind of detail that helps you invent your own scenery in your head. ¬†Know what I mean? ¬†

I can’t wait to get up to speed on this series, and I can’t wait until June when the next book comes out! ¬†Oh, and to make it even better, ABC Family has a TV series coming out in June based on the book series! ¬†It too is called Pretty Little Liars and is being billed as a teenage Desperate Housewives. ¬†I’ve never watched Desperate Housewives, but if it is even half as good as PLL is, I might just have to give it a try. ¬†I hope the series doesn’t suck, but even if it does, that’s OK because the books are enough and they ROCK!

What are you still reading this for?  Go read Pretty Little Liars!

<3, lindsay

P.S.  Dinosaur pictures to make a comeback soon!

P.P.S. ¬†On an unrelated note, I am 70% sure I sat near Ke$ha at dinner tonight. ¬†I would be more sure if I could confirm she was in Nashville at the moment. ¬†I just thought of that because I wrote dinosaur, which reminded me of Amber’s post of Ke$ha’s song, Dinosaur. ¬†Hahahahahahaha!