I’ve read Exodus a time or three - on my own, as part of a class, and general bible studies. I never really gave much thought about how the leaders would feel at ground zero, with the constant whining and kvetching from the Israelites.
To know me is to look at my bookshelves....
1. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary - the book that started it all. Read this in Kindergarten (the second time - I had to repeat this grade due to a move that included losing my school records). Re-reading this book a couple of years ago helped me gain patience when dealing with my kids because it reminded me that little people need understanding as much (or more so) than they can understand at the time. Ramona was NOT the chose one, she was not the popular or fashionable one, she was the rest of us and that was okay with her.
2. Double Love (Sweet Valley High #1)/Secrets (Sweet Valley High #2)/Dear Sister (Sweet Valley High #6) created by Francine Pascal - I bought the first two books in the series the summer between first and second grade. My mom didn't notice that these books were rated for sixth grade (12 years) or older, she was just happy I was entertained by myself. The third book has the first "intimate" scene I have read (at age 8 - what would Ramona think?) and it has stayed with me long after I have read a ton of racier stuff - the scene where Bruce Patman gets to second base with Elizabeth Wakefield is by now the stuff of SV legend. I ended up reading any book in the series I could get at the school and public libraries and then moved on to the first eight books of Sweet Valley University by the time I hit 13 years old.
And because everything is new again, I now listen to two podcasts that go book by book through the series and we (podcast hosts and listeners alike) think - WHY DID I READ THIS STUFF? So much toxic masculinity....
3. The Fowlers of Sweet Valley (Sweet Valley Historical Sagas #3) created by Francine Pascal - this book is special to me because it was my first historical romance book and it told the story of events in French history from the French point of view without adding in American or British biases into it. This is where I learned about French resistance during the World Wars - not my history books/class. I became a bit of Francophile in my teens and ended up taking five years of French (8th - 12th grades) because of this book.
4. Kristy's Big Idea (The Babysitter's Club #1) by Ann M. Martin - this book started the series that was 180 degrees from Sweet Valley and the idealized California life in the 1980s. Kristy, Claudia, Stacey, Dawn, Jessie, Mallory and the others were much more relatable to a kid growing up in NJ and PA. And surprising for kid lit in the 1980s, really diverse - disability/medical conditions (Stacey has diabetes), Asian-American family (Claudia and her family, including her grandmother who was in the internment camps of the 1940s) are just two examples of how Martin gave real girls a voice within the series.
5. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare - for me this is the story of Benedick and Beatrice and the rest of the cast is just there to witness their awesome banter and saving Hero. This is the play that made me realize I really love the enemies-to-lovers trope.
I've been blessed with a pretty amazing reading year in which disappointments were few and far between -- so it was fortunately not difficult at all to spot the small number of candidates for my "grievances" list when scrolling back through my BookLikes shelves. They are / were, in no particular order (except for no. 1):
Margaret Drabble: The Red Queen
Pretentious, artificial, historically incorrect and, most of all, monumentally self-involved. If this is the type of book that Drabble's sister A.S. Byatt criticizes under the byword "faction", then I'm with Byatt all the way -- and that statement is far from a given where Byatt's own fiction is concerned. Someday I'll seek out the actual memoirs of the Crown Princess whose story inspired this poor excuse for a novel. I doubt I'll go anywhere near Drabble's writing again anytime soon, however.
Original review HERE.
Stephen Brusatte: The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs
Speaking of monumentally self-involved, this wasn't much better than Drabble's book in that particular department. It does contain the actual bit of paleonthological information, but that bit is essentially hidden between tales of Steve the Great and his almost-as-great famous friends and acquaintances, as well as Brusatte's pet theories -- pun not intended -- and a lot of generalization on subjects that don't necessarily lend themselves to same. (Also, Brusatte obviously loves T-Rex ... and his obsession with the Rex's "puny arms" has me wondering about the wider psychological implications of Brusatte's fascination with the big bad boys (and girls) of dino-dom.)
Original review HERE.
Jennifer Wright: Get Well Soon
Our third candidate under the "monumentally self-involved" header. Leaving aside that the book's subtitle ("History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them") is a complete misnomer, this, too, is chiefly about the bright and sparky Ms. Wright and her opinions, frequently at best shallow research, and largely inappropriate oh-so-clever (NOT) quips, asides, and pop culture references. At least two of the "plagues" mentioned in the book actually are not epidemics at all (which shows that indeterminate "medical horrors" is what Wright was truly after), and on the epidemics that do get mentioned, entire chapters of medical research and the world-renowned scientists chiefly responsible for that research don't even get so much as a passing mention. Virtually the book's only saving grace was Wright's stance against anti-vaxxers and similar superstitious nonsense -- the sum total of which, however, would easily have fit into one of the magazine articles that Wright produces when she's not pretending she is a science writer.
Original review HERE.
Ethel Lina White: The Lady Vanishes
One of the rare examples where I like the movie adaptation (by the one and only Alfred Hitchcock, no less) vastly better than the literary original. "Woman in peril" stories aren't my cup of tea to begin with, but leaving aside that I rather like Hitch's spin on the conspiracy at the heart of the book, most of all, the two protagonists (Margaret Lockwood's Iris and her "knight in shining armour", portrayed by Michael Redgrave in the movie) come across as much more likeable and believable in the screen version -- the guy in particular is nothing more than a pretentious prick in the book, for however much he's supposed to be the Hero and Iris's big savior and love interest. All in all, Hitchcock elevated what seems to amount at best to B movie material on paper into one of his early masterpieces -- no small feat on his part.
Original review HERE.
Francine Matthews: The Cutout
Not strictly a disappointment, as I was a bit skeptical going in anyway; however, it had an interesting premise and started well and thus got my hopes up to a certain extent -- only to deflate them pretty thoroughly, alas, before it had really gotten going. Totalitarian political machinations in a post-collapse-of-the-Wall Europe may have sounded interesting when the book was written in the early 2000s -- and sound even more up-to-date these days, in fact -- but it would have required a different writer to pull this off convincingly. Matthews has no understanding of Germany, German society and politics, nor that of the Eastern European countries where her book is set (if she ever lived in Berlin or any of the book's other main locations, she obviously had virtually zero interactions with anybody other than her American intelligence colleagues), and unfortunately, name-dropping half a street atlas' worth of names of tourist sites and major traffic arteries is no replacement for a believable reproduction of local atmosphere. Similarly, not one of the characters is anything other than a two-dimensional cipher, and by the time the book reaches its end, it degenerates into the cheapest of cheap spy thriller clichés once and for all.
Original review (of sorts) HERE.
(Or would that be "dishonorable mentions"?)
John Bude: The Lake District Murder
I already used this for the task of finding something redeeming in an otherwise disappointing book (International Day of Tolerance / Door 6, Task 1), so I won't formally use it again in this particular context -- besides, unlike the five above-mentioned books it didn't actually make me angry ... it just fell flat of what it could have been.
Original review HERE.
Joanne Fluke / Laura Levine / Leslie Meier: Candy Cane Murder
A huge disappointment only considering how popular these three ladies' books are (particularly so, Fluke's) -- ultimately, I guess this was nothing more than a confirmation of the fact that cozy mysteries aren't actually my kind of thing (with the sole exception of Donna Andrews's Meg Langslow series). Of the three entries, Meier's was by far the weakest, but I neither cared particularly for Fluke's nor ultimately for Levine's, either -- though in the sense of "amongst the blind, the one-eyed man is king", Levine's was the strongest entry in an overall weak threesome.
Original review HERE.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
If you're fan of the movie Mean Girls and like to get together with your friends who are also fans, this cookbook would be an excellent additive to girl's night.
You'll get a look at some of Aaron Samuels' (aka Jonathan Bennett) favorite dishes, a recipe from his mom!, along with fun quizzes, facts, and trivia that will solidify your place as a true Mean Girls fan.
Overall, the recipes are pretty simple and most of the ingredients are fairly common, you won't be running from grocery store to grocery store trying to complete these dishes. Some of the recipes are so simple, Fairy Toast, that they're inclusion seems a bit immature but they do provide some great ideas for that all important girl's night.
Some of the recipes featured in the book and that I made:
Spring Fling Rolls - These take a little effort to put together but everyone needs that fancy smancy hors d'œuvre. The peppers, mint, mango, and spritz of lime made these light and tasty.
I Can't Help That I'm So POPular Popcorn - Who doesn't need pink colored popcorn in their lives? Obviously very easy to make but pretty and on theme.
Is Your Cornbread Muffin Buttered - Carbs, scary! But so worth it. A good replacement for the spring rolls if you live in a colder climate. The honey added gives it a nice sweet flavoring, careful to not over mix as that can cause your muffins to be dry.
Boo You Whore-iental Salad - An obvious one I had to make. Easy to make and even more fun to say. Mandarin oranges and honey roasted peanuts give this a nice flavoring, don't skip out on making the dressing as it will draw the salad flavors out.
You Will Get Pregnant and Diet Smoothie - With the popularity of smoothies right now, this was a recipe I was very excited to try. It had just the right amount of sweetness with the raspberries and honey but saved from being overly with the adding of kale (you could use spinach, also). Break out your blender and enjoy the yummy healthiness.
I'm Sorry People Are So Jealous of My Perfect Pink Taco - One of the most perfect for a girl's night. Easy to put together, people can add or subtract whatever they want, and they taste great. I substituted half of the mayo amount with Greek yogurt. You can never go wrong with shrimp and lime based tacos.
Strawberry Frose, Obvi - For the over 21 fans. Who doesn't love rose wine? As a close to a wine slushy, this would be a great bachelorette part drink, pre-drinking night out, or some random Wednesday We Wear Pink.
She Asked Me How to Spell Orange Chicken - I love the sweet spicy taste of orange chicken and this held up really well. Using fresh squeezed orange makes a difference in the crispness and definitely go for fresh grated ginger as it gives it the kick. I served mine with white rice and a night in alone.
Why Are You So Obsessed with MEatloaf - I knew immediately I would have to make this when I saw the title, I'm sure any fan will agree with me. I used ground turkey and the suggestion for Bloody Mary mix is inspired. Easy to make and you'll have the best Instagram titled photo around.
You Go, Glenn (Hot) Coco - Having a relaxed jammies girl's night? No problem, this sweet hot coco has you covered.
Like I said, the vast majority of these recipes are easy to make, you won't stress over the food for you party. There is a crown jewel recipe, Cake Made of Rainbows and Smiles (also includes a smaller version - The Fun-Fetchy Cake) that would bring your Mean Girls party to the top. It's a pink rainbow cake made from scratch and you'd win the crown if you ended your party with it.
As I said, with all the fabulous recipes, facts, and trivia, the workouts, beauty masks, and party plan layout for a Boozy Burn Brunch, you can't go wrong with this Burn Cookbook. It is less a comprehensive cookbook and more about bringing your friends together for a fun Mean Girls night together with easy but tasty recipes. How could you say no to a cookbook that has a section titled "Mean Grills (She Doesn't Even Grill Here)?
(Original Review, 1980-11-25)
When you see a pb cover with the author's name in bright red letters over an inch high, and the title letters in white, only a quarter of an inch in height, but you never heard of the writer, it makes you wonder. (The story doesn't read like a translation, nor is there any entry for Mezo in Clute's SF ENCYCLOPEDIA, so this is seemingly not an import.) It looked like something for my SF female protagonists’ collection, so I got it despite one of the most ridiculous cover pictures for that type.
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.