Saturday, February 26, 2011

Book Review: The Beat Cop's Guide to Chicago Eats by Sgt. David J. Haynes & Christopher Garlington

✰✰✰✰½ If you're looking for real food on the cheap, the word on the street is..."ask a cop." Sgt. Haynes is neither a chef nor a restaurant critic; he's a cop who simply tells it like it is.

The Beat Cop's Guide to Chicago Eats
is fun all around. The restaurants mentioned in the book are organized "into five sections corresponding to the five areas of the Chicago Police Department." Each section includes extras like cop talk, detours, and streetwise sidebars. There are even a few recipes sprinkled throughout; you can bet that I'll be making the bacon candy in the near future.

Each restaurant entry includes an address, phone number, website (if available), type of cuisine, and a description. Additionally, the book includes an index and your very own police discount with $34.00 in coupons for some restaurants mentioned in the book. Finally, I especially loved the "mug shots" included in the "About the Authors" page...nice touch guys.

The Bottom Line:
Part restaurant guide, part tour guide, and 100% fun; this book is easy to read and filled with anecdotes. I found the tongue-in-cheek format and witty banter between Sgt. Haynes and co-author Christopher Garlington to be highly entertaining. It's almost like Sgt. Haynes is giving readers a personal tour of the restaurants on his beat. The only thing that would have made the guide better would be a few photos. Also, the white print on black background used for the Streetwise sections was a little difficult to read. Highly recommended for both Chicagoans and tourists interested in finding the places with good, cheap food in Chicago. This would make a great birthday or Father's Day gift. Note: As an armchair traveler, I did not have the chance to visit all of these restaurants; nonetheless, it's simply an enjoyable read.

P.S. - I, for one, do hope the authors pursue writing
The Beat Cop's Guide to Chicago Sweets.

The Beat Cop's Guide to Chicago Eats by Sgt. David J. Haynes & Christopher Garlington. Paperback published by Lake Claremont Press in 2011. 150 p. ISBN: 978-189312172-0 Note: I received a complimentary Advance Reader's Edition from Lake Claremont Press in exchange for a review. This was made possible by the Early Reviewer program at LibraryThing.

For more fun, visit the website:
The Beat Cop's Guide. Looking for extra fun? Check out their show on BlogTalkRadio.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Book Review: The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman

✰✰✰½ The author of the My Weird School books introduces us to a new action-packed adventure featuring the McDonald twins, Coke and Pepsi. The brilliant twins are part of a select group of kids known as Young American Geniuses (YAGs for short). As part of the government program called The Genius Files (TGF), the country's smartest kids have been tapped to solve the world's problems. The secret assignments offer excitement, danger, travel, and the promise of a million dollars for each twin when they turn 21...provided they survive.

When Coke and Pepsi's wacky parents decide to take a family road trip from California to Washington D.C. in a rented RV, things really start to get interesting. In between visiting quirky tourist attractions, being chased by evil bowler hat dudes, and almost being killed by their health teacher, the twins must complete their first mission. With guidance from their mentors, Mya and Bones, and twins eventually face a showdown with Dr. Herman Warsaw, the creator of TGF.

Follow the McDonald family as they travel across the United States stopping along the way to visit a museum dedicated to Pez, the Singing Sand Dunes, the SPAM museum, and two large balls of twine. Will the twins be successful on their first mission? Only time will tell as they continue to run from the bowler dudes, face many obstacles, and escape death more than once.

The Bottom Line:
Packed with action, The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable is an exciting read for kids in middle school. The book is filled with interesting sidebars, ciphers, trivia, and directions for mapping out the twins' trip online. It's great fun for everyone. Enthusiastically recommended for readers, especially boys, interested in adventure and action. The adventure is sure to continue in the next book.

The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman. The ARC paperback edition was published by HarperCollins Publishers in 2011. 304 p. ISBN: 978-0-06-182764-8
Note: I received a complimentary Advance Reader's Edition from HarperCollins Publishers in exchange for a review. This was made possible by the Early Reviewer program at LibraryThing.

Monday, February 14, 2011

February is Library Lovers' Month

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Love is certainly in the air. Can't you feel it? There are flowers, romantic cards, and candy hearts everywhere you look. While it is undeniably the most romantic day of the year, it's also Library Lovers' Month.

Did you know that these days libraries are doing more with less? As the demands for library services have grown, many libraries are faced with smaller budgets. February is the month set aside to increase not only your awareness of what the library has to offer you, but also how you can help your library. That's right; you can make a difference.

There are many ways you can get involved. Let's explore a few options:

  • Volunteer your time or expertise.
  • Donate money (every little bit helps).
  • Sign up for a program.
  • Ask about honoring a friend or loved one with a book memorial.
  • Join the Friends of the Library.
  • Help with fundraising events.
  • Donate used books for your library's used book sale.
  • Become a literacy tutor.
  • Offer to present a program in your area of expertise.
  • Write a letter to the editor and express your concerns about the state of library funding.
  • Write letters to your legislators telling them how much the library means to you.
  • Attend a library board meeting.
  • Drop in and simply say "thank you."
Valentine's Day is simply the perfect day to show your appreciation of your favorite library or librarian. Whether your favorite library is an academic, school, public, or private library, stop by today and celebrate Library Lovers' Month. Supporting your library ensures future generations that libraries are here to stay.

For more information about supporting libraries, check out these sites:
Friends and Foundations of California Libraries & Friends of Libraries U.S.A.