Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Belles (Belles #1) by Dhonielle Clayton

The Belles (The Belles #1) I read this in an entire sitting and was pleasantly surprised at its unpredictability.

Camellia is part of an elite squad of beautiful women known as Belles who have an inherited magical ability to change others' appearances. This gift is highly valued, as all people have been cursed into a sort of zombie/wraith appearance, with sunken, wrinkled gray skin, red eyes, and dull, straw-like hair. People spend exorbitant amounts of money for monthly maintenance sessions with a Belle to keep up their artificial beauty.

Camellia's new glitzy world of beauty is hiding dark secrets, however, and the more she learns, the more she realizes that she can no longer move through this world as a passive observer, but must use her abilities to try and make things right.

This book's only weakness was that it occasionally got caught up in its descriptions -- while extended descriptions of outfits, makeup, and hairstyles may be necessary for screenplays or scripts, I'm not especially invested in what kind of outfits the characters are wearing. These parts were easy to skim through.

I was also disappointed to discover that this is book 1 in a new series. I was under the impression it was a stand-alone novel until I reached the final few pages and it began to dawn on me that there was no way the plot was getting resolved anytime soon. Book 1 offers no resolution. I am, however, looking forward to book 2, whenever that may be.

received via Netgalley

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Night Masquerade (Binti #3) by Nnedi Okorafor

The Night Masquerade (Binti, #3) Binti's visit back to Earth with her alien BFF Okwu takes a tragic turn when the Khoush, enemies of Okwu's people, decide to strike at Binti's family for sheltering him. This never ending war has found its way into Binti's backyard, and as a master harmonizer, Binti feels a responsibility to create peace between Okwu's people and the Khoush -- a duty that could create more tragedy before it's resolved.

The Night Masquerade further explores Binti's background, as she struggles to incorporate her many identities into her vision of herself, her destiny, and her responsibilities.

“You want to know what I think?” He looked at me for a moment, clearly trying to decide if it were better to keep his words to himself.
“Go on,” I urged him. “I want to hear this.”
“You try too hard to be everything, please everyone. Himba, Meduse, Enyi Zinariya, Khoush ambassador. You can’t. You’re a harmonizer. We bring peace because we are stable, simple, clear. What have you brought since you came back to Earth, Binti?”

Well, an entertaining sci-fi adventure, for starters.

I am sad to see the conclusion of the Binti series, but now I'll move on to Ms. Okorafor's other works.

received via Netgalley

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Very Very Very Long Dog by Julia Patton

The Very Very Very Long Dog Kids love dogs and giggling at bathroom humor, so a dog who can't really control where his behind goes is a sure winner. Kids will also appreciate the way that it appears that kids solve the problem of keeping track of his bottom (their ages aren't really obvious, but they seem kid-like) and educators/librarians will enjoy that they use books to find their solution. A quick, short read that will go over well in groups or one-on-one.

received via Netgalley

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It! by Ree Drummond

Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes for a Crazy Busy Life Literally my favorite cookbook so far. Ever.

The design, the simplicity of directions, the availability of ingredients, the tastiness of the recipes themselves... I love you, Pioneer Woman. You're the best.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Mitsitam Cafe Cookbook: Recipes from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian by Richard Hetzler

The Mitsitam Café Cookbook: Recipes from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian This is the kind of cookbook that you buy and put on display and proudly cook the recipes from in front of your new friends who you're trying to convince that you're cultured and sophisticated. It just looks elegant. I imagine myself cooking these recipes while watching a Great Courses DVD I rented from the library. It's okay to be that person, sometimes.

Honestly, though, this is an excellently designed cookbook, well-organized, with just enough introduction to the recipes to give you a bit of reference but without causing your eyes to glaze over. Reading it is an educational experience.

There are recipes for any kind of meal. There's a delicate and elegant "fiddlehead fern salad" that looks fancy as all get-out (see the cover image) and would most certainly impress your in-laws at a fancy luncheon, and there's a great recipe for frybread tacos that you would binge-eat with your cousins at a cookout. The section of sauces and salsas will find a lot of use for typical American eaters. (At least for me, anyway, a person who looks for excuses to cover something in hot salsa.)

Most recipes are pretty make-able; you will find an occasional where-the-heck-can-I-find-that ingredient. (Juniper berries? I don't even know where to look.)

This book also fills an important hole in collection development for libraries and collectors. I have lived in the US my entire life and have no familiarity with Native foods other than frybread and what is sold in Mexican restaurants. Everyone eats; shared culture via food is important to learn and to remember.

Monday, November 6, 2017

F***, That's Delicious: An Annotated Guide to Eating Well by Action Bronson

F*ck, That's Delicious: An Annotated Guide to Eating Well I suppose I'm not the intended audience, here. I had to Google who the author is (a gourmet chef who became a rapper) so a good chunk of the book went right over my head, picking up speed until it was just a speck over Lake Michigan. It almost felt like I was at the birthday party for a super popular person I had never met and with whom I had no mutual friends, and while the whole crowd was cracking up together about inside jokes, I just sat there picking my nails and wishing I could find the recipes.

If you like your cookbooks more on the memoir side of things, then this is a good book for you. If, like me, you have zero interest in the chef's feelings about food and only want the recipes, then I'd recommend picking it up for free from the library and slogging through all the delightful graphic design and anecdotal stories until you can find the recipes.

So yeah, I didn't like it, but that's just me. You may think it's amazing, and more power to you, if you do. I'm sure there's a big audience for this book. I just didn't fall into it.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Know-Nonsense Guide to Money: An Awesomely Fun Guide to the World of Finance! - The Walter Foster Jr. Creative Team

The Know-Nonsense Guide to Money: An Awesomely Fun Guide to the World of Finance! This is an excellent introduction to money for the elementary school crowd. (Honestly, it could have also helped the clueless rich kids I met at college!) It's very detailed, but not overwhelming, and imparts practical wisdom to kids who may be getting some small income from babysitting, allowances, etc.

I'm definitely adding this to the public library's collection.

received via Netgalley