Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cookbook Review: The Ultimate Shortcut Cookie Book by C. Saulsbury

4.5/5 stars. Just in time for the holidays, this book is a must for those planning to participate in bake sales and holiday cookie exchanges. Camilla Saulsbury teaches readers the ins and outs of using cake mix, brownie mix, cereal, or premade refrigerated cookie dough to speed up traditional baking.

The recipes are easy to read and a cinch to make. The introductory chapter, Cookies 101, is great for novices just getting started in baking. All readers will have fun choosing from over 700 recipes for Drop Cookies, Fancy Cookies, Bar Cookies, Brownies, and No-Bake treats. The book includes information on frostings and fillings, also. Handy features include the Glossary, Equipment & Ingredient Sources, Metric Measure Conversions, and the Index.

The Bottom Line: This cookbook fits all levels of bakers including kids just learning to bake and experienced bakers looking for time saving tips. You'll find a cookie for any occasion. If you own Saulsbury's previous cookie books, you might choose to pass this one up. However, The Ultimate Shortcut Cookie Book is a great compilation of her previous titles and includes some color photos. Highly recommended for everyone who enjoys baking. More color photos would have been appreciated.

The Details: The Ultimate Shortcut Cookie Book: 745 Scrumptious Recipes That Start With Refrigerated Cookie Dough, Cake Mix, Brownie Mix, or Ready-To-Eat Cereal by Camilla V. Saulsbury, 2009. ISBN: 978-1-58182-701-9

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cookbook Review: Japanese Hot Pots by T. Ono & H. Salat

5/5 stars. Lovers of Japanese food are already familiar with sushi, but now they have another treat to try. The art of table top cooking is demystified in Chef Tadashi Ono and food writer Harris Salat's new cookbook Japanese Hot Pots: Comforting One-Pot Meals.

Hot pots or onabe are a staple in Japanese cooking especially in the winter months. These dishes are known for being simple and easy to prepare. While you can prepare them using a stove, for added fun try cooking tableside and get the whole family involved.

Authentic recipes are featured in this beautifully illustrated book. The recipes are clearly written and easy to follow including hot pot recipes for vegetables; fish and seafood; chicken and duck; and beef, pork, lamb and venison. There is an index and a handy section on resources for those hard to find items.

The Bottom Line: Perfect for the wintertime cooking, this cookbook fills a unique niche in Japanese cooking. Highly recommended for all home chefs looking to try something new and fun.

Details: Japanese Hot Pots: Comforting One-Pot Meals by Tadashi Ono & Harris Salat, 2009. ISBN: 978-1-58008-981-4

Friday, November 27, 2009

Book Review: Who On Earth is Jane Goodall? by V. Guidi

5/5 stars. In this fascinating biography of Jane Goodall, author Victoria Guidi entertains and informs readers about the accomplishments of a true humanitarian and pioneer in the study of primates. As part of the new Scientists Saving the Earth series, Who On Earth is Jane Goodall?: Champion for the Chimpanzees, Guidi provides insights into Goodall's childhood, work, and life.

The book is illustrated with beautiful full color photographs that hold a young reader's attention. It also features a handy timeline, glossary, and index. Additionally, the chapter notes are perfect for students working on book reports.

The Bottom Line: With the reinforced library binding, this book will hold up nicely in both school and public libraries. It's great to see a series featuring so many women scientists. Highly recommended as an excellent biography for kids ages 11 - 16.

Details: Who On Earth is Jane Goodall?: Champion for the Chimpanzees by Victoria Guidi, 2010. ISBN: 978-1-59845-119-1

Other titles in the Scientists Saving the Earth series: Who on Earth is Aldo Leopold?: Father of Wildlife Ecology by G. Scherer & M. Fletcher, Who On Earth is Archie Carr?: Protector of Sea Turtles by C. Webster, Who on Earth is Dian Fossey?: Defender of the Mountain Gorillas by J. Kushner, Who on Earth is Rachel Carson?: Mother of the Environmental Movement by G. Scherer & M. Fletcher, and Who On Earth is Sylvia Earle?: Undersea Explorer of the Ocean by S. Reichard.

Note: Enslow Publishers, Inc. provided a complimentary copy of Who On Earth is Jane Goodall? Champion for the Chimpanzees to Mini Book Bytes for review purposes.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Book Review: Bayou Dogs by T. Abbott

3.5/5 stars. In this second installment of The Haunting of Derek Stone series by Tony Abbott, we find Derek and his brother Ronny preparing to fight a Legion of evil. Until the train wreck, Derek was just a normal 14 year old kid. Derek survived, but his brother Ronny wasn't so lucky. Ronny died, and the soul of Virgil Black reanimated Ronny's body in a process called translation.

Virgil is one of the good souls, but many of the dead are not. The Rift has allowed the souls of the dead to cross over, and they all seem to be after Derek. The boys find themselves at Bayou Malpierre, where they meet their Dad's friend Bonton and his peculiar son Waldo.

Derek is soon flooded with memories of a time when he almost drown in this very same bayou. Derek's long-awaited return to the bayou signals the time to raise the sunken ship Bellamina. Derek must overcome his fears and confront the evil inside Waldo as the battle between good and evil in the land of the dead spills over into the land of the living.

The Bottom Line: Kids in middle school, especially boys, will enjoy this zombie adventure. The action starts slowly, but rapidly builds as Derek, Ronny/Virgil, and a little girl named Abby join forces and fight the dead.

Details: Bayou Dogs (The Haunting of Derek Stone Book 2) by Tony Abbott, 2009. ISBN: 978-0-545-03430-2

Other books in the series include: City of the Dead (Book1), The Red House (Book 3), and The Ghost Road (Book 4).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Book Review: ISIS by D. Clegg

5/5 stars. This hauntingly beautiful tale of love, loss, and the supernatural will mesmerize the reader from beginning to end. ISIS by Douglas Clegg is a triumph. He invites the reader to witness the transformation of a young innocent girl into a mysterious oracle.

Born Iris Catherine Villiers, the story finds young Iris growing up with her siblings on her grandfather's Cornwall estate. She soon discovers his collection of books on the occult. When her beloved brother Harvey dies, Iris is overcome by grief. Despite the warnings of Old Marsh, the gardener, Iris is unnaturally drawn to the Tombs as she turns to the supernatural to resurrect Harvey. But will things be the same as before Harvey's death? This gothic themed novella transports readers to the exact moment Iris becomes realizes her new power and becomes ISIS.

Readers of Clegg's Harrow House series will remember Isis. Many have wondered: who is she, where did she come from, and how did she become an oracle? All of these questions are answered in this stand-alone prequel. Read ISIS as a "chapter" in the continuing saga of Harrow House or read it for itself. Either way this novella will stay with you for a long time.

Features stunning black & white illustrations by Glenn Chadbourne. The intricacy of the artwork is astounding. Just when you think you've seen everything, something else catches your eye.

The Bottom Line: ISIS is the best novella I've read in a very long time. Whether you are a fan of horror, mystery, fantasy, or gothic fiction; this book will appeal to many. Try it; you'll like it.

Details: ISIS by Douglas Clegg, 2009. ISBN: 978-1-593155407

For more supernatural fun, visit Douglas Clegg's website at: (I, for one, couldn't resist swatting the fly, and I bet you can't either.) Find out more about ISIS:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Book Review: Two Bad Pilgrims by K. Lasky

2/5 stars. Award winning author Kathryn Lasky introduces us to two brothers, Johnny and Francis Billington. Her new book, Two Bad Pilgrims, is a fictionalized account of a notorious family, who were on the passenger list of the Mayflower.

Presented in comic book style, the two brothers tell it like it was when they traveled to the New World with Captain Myles Standish and the other pilgrims. Faced with the boredom of being cooped up on the Mayflower, the brothers' adventures include almost blowing up the ship. The story is saturated with the naughty, feisty nature of the main characters. While the storyline is unique, the crudeness of Johnny & Francis stands out.

The Bottom Line: Although Two Bad Pilgrims is a picture book, it contains 8 chapters. While it presents some interesting trivia, this book did not appeal to me. Parents looking for books about Thanksgiving should look elsewhere. Written for kids ages 9 - 12 who like graphic novels.

Details: Two Bad Pilgrims written by Kathryn Lasky & illustrated by John Manders, 2009. ISBN: 978-0-670-06168-6