Tag Archives: Public Library

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

Book Review
Book Review

Book Review of The School of Essential Ingredients: 2 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Berkley Trade; Reprint edition (January 5, 2010), Paperback: 261 pages, ISBN-10: 0425232093, ISBN-13: 978-0425232095

Food is required to live because it feeds the body, but to feed the soul, connection to another person is required and this is the true fuel. The School of Essential Ingredients provides both, and it is a slice of life story. It briefly introduces 8 cooking students and their teacher, Lillian, telling a little about each. Most of them meet for the first time at an upscale restaurant which holds a monthly cooking class.

Erica Bauermeister has written a few fiction books and has co-written a couple of reading guides. She released a sequel to The School of Essential Ingredients in January, 2013; it is called The Lost Art of Mixing. This sequel is a continuation of Lillian’s story and revolves around her restaurant and the people who frequent it. The School of Essential Ingredients primarily takes place in Lillian’s restaurant and is told in the voice of a third person narrative with each chapter from the point of view of a different character. It falls into the drama genre.

The School of Essential Ingredients is an enjoyable book, although it does not have much depth. In many ways the story was like a recipe with the subtle flavours of the characters all mixing together to create a feast. The book tries to be more than what it is and would succeed better if Ms. Bauermeister shared as much about the characters as she does about food and ingredients.

There were lots of different characters, and the reader learns just a little about each one. The stories are generally uplifting and the cooking class helped each of them in just the way they needed.  Ms. Bauermeister effectively uses white spaces between the words creating a great effect. In many ways the book was laid out like a recipe book. Each section dealt with a separate person. Each person mixed with the others like the ingredients in a recipe.

The writing was great, and the story interesting, but it felt more like a mixture of short stories. I like a story that is big and full, one that pulls you in and doesn’t let you go until the last page. I also like a story with a bit more excitement. For me the overall story was just a little bit lacking, but I still recommend the book as a good read.

Favorite Quotes: 

 “Underneath the wand was an old photograph of her mother holding a baby Lillian, her mother’s eyes looking directly into the camera, her smile as huge and rich and gorgeous as any chocolate cake Lillian could think of making.” (Page 25)

                “There were so few occasions for a zester; using it felt like a holiday.” (Page 27)

 

To Purchase: “The School of Essential Ingredients” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

This entry is part 12 of 13 in the series The Dresden Files
Book Review
Book Review

Book Review of Ghost Story: 3 Treasure Boxes
Book thirteenth of The Dresden Files
Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks, Audible Audio Edition, Listening Length: 17 hours and 56 minutes (624 pages,) ASIN: B005EJFVAQ

Harry has a new case, one where he needs to find his own murderer. The only problem is, he is in ghost form and unable to access solid matter. In Changes, Harry was able to save his little girl and in the process he wiped out the entire race of the Red Court Vampires which also ended the war, but caused someone to want him dead. What he didn’t anticipate is the havoc  in the supernatural world that would be created by the absence of the Red Court Vampires.

Ghost Story is the thirteenth book in The Dresden Files. Jim Butcher has written 14 books in this series, and he is currently working on book 15. He has also written 6 books in the Codex Alera Series, which is closer to high fantasy than The Dresden Files. See my review of these books at http://books-treasureortrash.com/series/codex-alera-series/ The Dresden Files are considered contemporary fantasy and are sometimes referred to as urban fantasy. They also fall into the detective genre since Harry is a detective, who is also a wizard, and in each book he solves a case involving the supernatural. These stories are told in the first person narrative from Harry Dresden’s point of view.

Ghost Story took an interesting twist in the Dresden Files universe which included new layers in the story’s supernatural world. We learn more about Harry’s past through a well told flashback, and even as a ghost, Harry was still the same smart mouthed goof ball. His friends couldn’t see him, but they knew it was him based on some of the comments that came out of his mouth. Several of the characters, including Harry, showed growth and development in their characters; perhaps death has helped Harry to mature.

Harry gets to take a ride within Bob’s skull, which it turns out is a really awesome place. Evil Bob makes an appearance, and at first I was confused about why Evil Bob and Good Bob both appeared simultaneously in the book. However, it was later explained that Evil Bob was accidently created in Dead Beat when Bob eradicated all his Kemmler knowledge. Molly’s new title is the Ragged Lady, and her powers have grown exponentially. She has replaced Harry as the protector of Chicago, while hiding from the White Council. Mortimer Lindquist plays a big role in this book, which is not really surprising because he is an ectomancer, a person who can see and communicate with ghosts, and Harry is now a ghost. The story included lots of action and several surprise turns, including an awesome ending.

I recommend Ghost Story as a very good read. I found the book hard to put down and it included a satisfying resolution to the cliff hanger at the end of Changes. I recommend all the books in this series, which are well written with great characters. I am anxious to see what is going to happen next, so I am planning on reading the next book in the series, Cold Days.

To Purchase: “Ghost Story” from Amazon, click here or on picture above


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Changes by Jim Butcher

This entry is part 11 of 13 in the series The Dresden Files
Book Review
Book Review

Book Review of Changes: 3 Treasure Boxes
Book twelve of The Dresden Files
Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks, Audible Audio Edition, Listening Length: 15 hours and 28 minutes (560 pages,) ASIN: B003FOOGG2

Harry will do almost anything to save a helpless female, but when that girl is his 8 year old daughter, he becomes unstoppable. He goes up against all the odds and will do whatever it takes to save this innocent little soul.

Changes is the twelfth book in The Dresden Files. Jim Butcher has written 14 books in this series, and he is currently working on book 15. He has also written 6 books in the Codex Alera Series, which is closer to high fantasy than The Dresden Files. See my review of these books at http://books-treasureortrash.com/series/codex-alera-series/ The Dresden Files are considered contemporary fantasy and are sometimes referred to as urban fantasy. They also fall into the detective genre since Harry is a detective, who is also a wizard, and in each book he solves a case involving the supernatural. These stories are told in the first person narrative from Harry Dresden’s point of view.

This book was heart wrenching, endearing, extremely sad, and jam packed full of action. There was a lot of tension throughout which kept building and building up to a shocking conclusion, as well as revealing some surprising facts about Harry’s family. While reading Changes, I gasped when Harry was faced with a devastating choice between the lesser of evils, and as the story unfolded I could see how well the title fit. There were several disastrous events that occur throughout this book, including a jaw dropping cliff-hanger at the end.

I recommend Changes as a very good read, plus I found it hard to put down and I also highly recommend all the books in this series, which are all very well written. The characters are all well developed and the story line is great. Although, with the ending as it was, I did not feel this book fell into the standalone category that the other books occupied. I am very anxious to see what is going to happen next, so I have started the next book in the series, Ghost Story.
To Purchase: “Changes” from Amazon, click here or on picture above


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Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

This entry is part 10 of 13 in the series The Dresden Files
Book Review
Book Review

Book Review of Turn Coat: 3 Treasure Boxes
Book Eleven in The Dresden Files
Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks, Audible Audio Edition, Listening Length: 14 hours and 40 minutes (464 pages,) ASIN: B0026HQAMC

Morgan, a fellow warder, appears at Harry’s door looking for help, but this is the last person Harry would expect because Morgan despises him. He has stalked and tried to kill Harry many times, but is now looking for help. For all intents and purposes, Morgan appears to have turned traitor against the White Court.

Turn Coat is the eleventh book in The Dresden Files. Jim Butcher has currently written 14 books in this series. He has also written 6 books in the Codex Alera Series, which is closer to high fantasy than the Dresden Files. See my review of these books at http://books-treasureortrash.com/series/codex-alera-series/ The Dresden Files are considered contemporary fantasy and are sometimes referred to as urban fantasy. They can also fall into the detective genre since Harry is a detective, who is also a wizard, and in each book he solves a case involving the supernatural. These stories are told in the first person narrative from Harry Dresden’s point of view.

Turn Coat was full of action, including lots of excitement with many surprising turns. There were several duels against an incredibly strong skin-changer, resulting in some sad repercussions. There was a mystery to solve surrounding Morgan and the death of a leading member of the White Council. Throw into the mix Molly’s misguided decisions, add in a bad situation for Thomas and you have a great story.

I liked the writing; Harry Dresden is a wise cracking guy and his witty comments are always fun to read. I recommend Turn Coat as a very good read. This book follows the usual Harry Dresden style, and you just got to love that guy. The story is stand alone, yet it is also clearly part of a bigger picture. I recommend you read all the books in order to get the most enjoyment out of the series. I have already started reading the next book, Changes, and it grabbed my interest from the first page.

To Purchase: “Turn Coat” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Book Review: 1 Treasure Box
Book Review

Book Review of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed: 1 Treasure Box
Publisher: Random House Audio, Audible Audio Edition, Listening Length: 13 hours and 6 minutes (336 pages), ASIN: B007MIWUG0

After Cheryl lost her mother in a viscous fight against cancer, she started spiraling out of control and as she began to hit bottom, she realized it was time to take her life back. She did this by hiking alone 1,100 miles up the Pacific Crest trail. This book is the story or her journey, both on the trail and through the mire her life had become.

Cheryl Strayed, whose birth name was Spangler is an American author, and she has written a couple of books, all in the memoir genre as well as several essays, and she writes an advice column: Dear Sugar for The Rumpus. “Wild” was recommended by Oprah, which helped to push it to number one for nonfiction on the New York Times Best Seller list for seven consecutive weeks.

It is great that Cheryl realized her life was out of control and she made a decision to make a change. But she jumped into this journey, like she did most things in life, without really preparing or knowing what to expect. The journey was difficult and she had plenty of challenges, but for maybe the first time in her life, she did not quit. My favorite character was Cheryl’s mother, because she seemed liked a real nice, down to earth type of person who always tried to do her best despite the circumstances. 

I did not really care for either the style or the pacing of the writing in this book. I felt that Ms. Strayed told us what was happening, but she did not really draw the reader in, she did not show us, although there was a lot of potential for this tale to be really truly spell binding. 

I would not recommend this book, and although I thought it was ok, it was not great. Ms. Strayed is not my favorite author and I probably will not read anything else that she writes. Although, I do think that her writing about the Pacific Crest brought more awareness to this wonderful trail.

 

To Purchase: “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

Innocent in Death by J. D. Robb

This entry is part 26 of 26 in the series In Death Series
Book Review
Book Review

Book Review of Innocent in Death – 2 Treasure Boxes
In Death Series, Book 28
Publisher: Brilliance Audio, Audible Audio Edition, Listening Length: 12 hours and 7 minutes (400 pages), ASIN: B0019ZWM2E

A well-liked teacher has been poisoned at a posh elementary school, and before long another teacher is found drowned at the same school. Two young girls find the first body, which starts Eve’s path to the identity of the culprit. Meanwhile, on the home front, an old flame of Roake’s has reappeared and she is interested in putting her hooks back into the man she allowed to get away.

To date there are 44 books in the In Death series, with one more expected to be released in February of 2013. These books are crime drama, suspense and romance because they focus on the case Eve is currently working on as well as her and Roake’s personal relationship. This is a futuristic suspense that takes place in 2060 in New York City. The books are told in a third person narrative and they focus primarily on Lieutenant Eve Dallas, but at times the story is also told through some of the other characters including the murderer. They are written by Nora Roberts under the pseudonym of J. D. Robb.

I enjoyed this book, as I did all the previous books in this series. I always know what to expect and Ms. Robb, never fails to deliver. The story is well told, and although there is little action in this book, the story was still interesting. I had no idea who the murderer was until it was revealed, and I was shocked at the direction the investigation lead. I found the side story about Eve and Roake’s relationship to be a great addition.

I recommend Innocent in Death as a good book and even if you haven’t read any of the previous books in the series, you will enjoy this one since the book stands on its own. However, if you enjoy reading futuristic crime drama romance, with a strong female character, then you should read all the books in this series.

To purchase: “Innocent In Death” from Amazon, click here or on picture above


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Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series MaddAddam Trilogy
3 Treasure Boxes - Very Good Book
3 Treasure Boxes – Very Good Book

Book Review of Oryx and Crake: 3 Treasure Boxes
First Book in the MaddAddam Trilogy
Publisher: Random House Audio, Listening Length: 10 hours and 29 minutes (464 pages), ASIN: B00009OYYN


The world as we know it has been deliberately destroyed by an epidemic, and genetically modified “superior” humanoids have been invented. These new people call themselves “Crakers,” and only one other person seems to remain, Jimmy. Now he is known as Snowman, and he is crazy. He has also become a God figure for the new human race.

Margaret Atwood is a famous Canadian writer born in 1937, and she has written numerous books, short stories, books of poetry and essays. She has won more than 55 awards, both Canadian as well as international. Oryx and Crake is speculative fiction and the story is told in a first person narrative by the main protagonist, Snowman. He is also known as Jimmy. The story starts in a post-apocalyptic world with Snowman living alone and yet somehow connected to a group of human-like creatures. As Snowman stumbles through his life, the events that lead up the ruination of the world are slowly revealed through flashbacks.

This was an interesting look at what potentially could happen if and when humans start to modify human, animal and plant genetics without any code of ethics. It shows what could happen if people and corporations believed they had the power to act as God.  This is a rather dismal view of humanity and the misuse of power, but the characters are really well drawn and fascinating.

I recommend this book as a very good read. This is a standalone story with a satisfying if somewhat open ended and yet unique ending that leaves the reader thinking. It allows the reader to draw his/her own conclusions.  The ending leads nicely into the next book in the series, The Year of the Flood which was written after Oryx and Crake but with events that occur simultaneously.

Questions to ponder:

    • What did you think of the ending, and what do you think is the next step for mankind in this story?
    • Do you feel that our current human genetic research is good or bad?
    • How far should human genetic research and manipulation go?

To Purchase: “Oryx and Crake” from Amazon, click here or on picture above


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Memory in Death by J. D. Robb

This entry is part 25 of 26 in the series In Death Series
Book Review

Book Review of Memory In Death: 2 Treasure Boxes
In Death Series, Book 25
Publisher: Brilliance Audio, Listening Length: 10 hours and 58 minutes (384 pages), ASIN: B0019ZWM2O

It’s Christmas 2059, and Santa is dead, but that’s an easy case for Lieutenant Eve Dallas. In Memory in Death, the hard case comes later and involves the murder of Trudy Lombard, a woman who was once Eve’s foster mother. She is brutally killed, sometime after she tried to blackmail Roake about Eve’s nefarious past.

To date there are 44 books in the In Death series, with one more expected to be released in February of 2013. These books are crime drama, suspense and romance because they focus on the case Eve is currently working on as well as her and Roake’s personal relationship. This is a futuristic suspense that takes place in 2059 in New York City. The books are told in a third person narrative and they focus primarily on Lieutenant Eve Dallas, but at times the story is also told through some of the other characters including the murderer. They are written by Nora Roberts under the pseudonym of J. D. Robb.

Memory in Death gives the reader more insight into Eve’s life as a child since it provides an avenue for flashbacks to her first experience in child protective services.  Where the woman who was supposed to protect young girls was actually very cruel and abusive and did far more harm than good. This book had a good hook and it kept the reader engaged as it unfolded and developed. There was a good twist at the end, and even though I saw it coming, I still like how it was presented.

The story is well told and interesting, and I recommend this book as a good read. It is a standalone story and the book can be read and enjoyed on its own.   However I recommend you read the books in order to receive the most enjoyment since the story revolves around the characters and they grow and develop in each new installment.

To Purchase: “Memory in Death” from Amazon, click here or on picture above


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Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Book Review of Fahrenheit 451: 3 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc., Audible Audio Edition, Listening Length: 5 hours and 8 minutes (179 pages), ASIN: B000BUMW3M

Guy Montag is a fireman, and his job is to burn down houses that contain books. One day after work, he meets Clarissa a young woman who is full of vitality and he starts to realize how empty his life is, he starts to realize there are wisdom in words. As Guy begins questioning his life, his life starts to fall apart.

Ray Bradbury was an American author of science fiction, dystopia, fantasy and horror. His most famous work was “Fahrenheit 451”, but he is also known for “The Martian Chronicles” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” He wrote “Fahrenheit 451” in 1953, and the story is a dystopian science fiction novel told in a third person narrative from the point of view of the main protagonist, Guy Montag.

This is a prophetic view of where our society is heading. Young people spend hours a day texting, tweeting, searching the web, watching Youtube, playing video games and on Facebook, but they do not have enough time to read any books. In “Fahrenheit 451”, books have been outlawed, not because the government wants to control people, but because people are not interested in reading. Slowly, over time, people stopped attending the arts departments at university and creativity became extinct. The people in this story, just like people today, do not have time, and are consumed doing meaningless activities.

The story follows Guy Montag as he slowly becomes aware of his hollow life. He awakens from the trance he is in and he awkwardly tries to right the wrongs he has done. The story moves at a good pace with some surprising and exciting scenes. The ending shows how humanity’s apathy negatively affects the world but it also leaves the reader with a feeling of hope.

I recommend “Fahrenheit 451,” as a very good book. It is a standalone story, with a thought provoking ending. The writing is phenomenal and the word usage and descriptions are genius.

My favourite quotes: 

“As he stood there the sky over the house screamed. There was a tremendous ripping sound as if two giant hands had torn ten thousand miles of black linen down the seam. Montag was cut in half. He felt his chest chopped down and split apart. The jet-bombs going over, going over, going over, one two, one two, one two, six of them, nine of them, twelve of them, one and one and one and another and another and another, did all the screaming for him. He opened his own mouth and let their shriek come down and out between his bared teeth. The house shook. The flare went out in his hand. The moonstones vanished. He felt his hand plunge toward the telephone. “(pg 9)

“Without turning on the light he imagined how this room would look. His wife stretched on the bed, uncovered and cold, like a body displayed on the lid of a tomb, her eyes fixed to the ceiling by invisible threads of steel, immovable. And in her ears the little Seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk coming in, coming in on the shore of her unsleeping mind. The room was indeed empty. Every night the waves came in and bore her off on their great tides of sound, floating her, wide-eyed, toward morning. There had been no night in the last two years that Mildred had not swum that sea, had not gladly gone down in it for the third time.” (Pg 8)

To Purchase: “Fahrenheit 451” from Amazon, click here or on picture above


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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Book Review

Book Review of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: 2 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Vintage (May 18, 2004), Paperback: 226 pages, ISBN-10: 1400032717, ISBN-13: 978-1400032716

The neighbor’s dog has been murdered and Christopher is determined to play “Sherlock Holmes” to find the killer. He has an unusual way of looking at the world, which both helps and hinders his investigation. Christopher, through his detecting, unravels more secrets and finds more answers than he was looking for or is capable of handling.

Mark Haddon has written several children’s books and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is his first adult novel. The story is told in a first person narrative from the point of view of Christopher Boone, a 15 year old autistic boy. Mr. Haddon worked with autistic children when he was a young man.

This is a very sad story about an autistic teenage boy who decides to solve a mystery using his special unique talents. He is highly gifted in mathematics and in solving problems, but he is unable to deal with life and does not know how to respond to people.  He does not like to be touched, and if someone touches him, he will strike back using violence.

This is a standalone story, and it is told in an interesting and unique manner. The story is told in a memoir style from the point of view of an autistic boy who has Asperger’s Syndrome. Rather than numbering the chapters numerically, they instead are numbered in an increasing sequence of prime numbers, which is a good representation of how Christopher views life. I recommend this book as a good read.

Favourite quote:

“Lots of things are mysteries. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer to them. It’s just that scientists haven’t found the answer yet.” (Page 100)

 

 

To Purchase: “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” from Amazon, click here or on picture above