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review 2017-11-06 17:46
Dragonfly Song - Wendy Orr

This was kind of a hard book to review, mostly because it almost falls between genres. It's classed as an upper Middle-Grade historical fantasy, which, that's not wrong . . .

 

I felt like it had more of a classic children's fiction feel to it. It's coming-of-age, and also a sort of epic hero's journey, straddling children's lit and YA in a way that's often done more by adult literary works. It touches on many 'big ideas': deformity, religion/society, acceptance, adoption, trauma, bullying, disability, purpose/identity, fate . . . The format is creative and unique. The story arc stretches from the MC's birth to age 14 and is told in omniscient third person varying with passages in verse.

 

I'm not sure if there was a meaning to the alternating styles; at some points, I thought the dreamlike verse passages were meant to show the MC's perspective in a closer, almost experiential or sensory format as an infant, a toddler, a mute child . . . but then that didn't necessarily carry through, so perhaps it was more to craft an atmosphere for the story.

 

The setting is the ancient Mediterranean, and the story picks up on legends of bull dancing. The world feels distinct, grounded and natural, without heavy-handed world-building. It's a world of gods and priestesses, sacrifice and death and surrender. Humans seem very small within it, and as a children's book, it's challenging rather than comforting. There's death and violence and loss, handled in a very matter-of-fact manner, so I'd recommend it for maybe ages 10+, depending on the child. It's not gratuitously violent or graphic, but it's a raw-edged ancient world where killing a deformed child, having pets eaten by wild animals, beating slaves - including children - and sacrificing people as well as animals to the gods is just part of life. 

 

I was very kindly sent a hardcover edition via the Goodreads Giveaways program, and the book production is lovely. It has a bold, graphic cover with some nice foil accents, a printed board cover (which I prefer for kids books due to the durability), fully illustrated internal section pages, and pleasant, spacious typesetting.

 

Confident, mature young readers will find this an engaging, challenging and meaningful read with an inspiring story arc and some lovely writing. Hesitant readers and very young readers will probably find it a struggle. I'd give it 5/5 as a product, 4/5 as a literary work and 3/5 as kid's entertainment.

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review 2017-10-11 20:20
Human Interconnectedness: "A Nest of Vipers" by Andrea Camilleri
A Nest of Vipers (Inspector Montalbano Mystery) - Andrea Camilleri,Stephen Sartarelli

Why is Catarella allowed to have any part in the operation of the station? He'd be an encumbrance even if moved to toilet-cleaning duties. Why does Montalbano never seem to have any means of communicating with the rest of the force on him? It's not that he can't get a signal since he's never shown to try! Why does he appear to operate outside the rest of the force in his own time and to his inclinations? He's more like a private eye than a policeman. Catarella is almost certainly a “raccomandato”, i.e., someone who got his job thanks to connections rather than going through a rigorous interview and testing process (in Portuguese would be harder to translate; I don’t there’s a noun for that; for the action, yes; it’s called “meter uma cunha”, meaning literally “to pull strings for somebody”). It happens an awful lot. But Catarella does crack computer codes, week in week out, so he's good at something!

 

 

If you're into Mediterranean Crime Fiction, read on.

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review 2017-09-13 16:23
Mediterranean Diet: 250+ Heart Healthy Recipes & Desserts + 100 Mediterranean Diet Beginner's Tips, Tools, & Resources. (Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, Lose Weight, Slow Aging, Fight Disease & Burn Fat - Kevin Hughes

Mediterranean Diet: 250+ Heart Healthy Recipes & Desserts + 100 Mediterranean Diet Beginner’s Tips, Tools, & Resources. (Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, Lose Weight, Slow Aging, Fight Disease & Burn Fat by Kevin Hughes
Don't care for some of the discussions in this book as our nutritionist told us to limit our salt intake due to husband's heart attack. This book says Med diet is high in salt-I totally disagree with that.
I know what I can sprinkle on our food to make it healthy.
Recipes in this book do not have pictures. The nutritional information they do contain is different for each of the recipes, most will have protein, fat-not broken up into good and bad fats, carbs and calories. Each recipe has a title and servings and list of ingredients. When you have to use a can of beans and just rinse it off the brine is already in the beans, USE FRESH!
Some items I have no idea what they even are: tahini. Also has directions in how to make. Not all recipes even have nutritional information. Some of format is different for some of the recipes.
There are to me, a lot of useless information in the book. Introduction starts out with what the Mediterranean diet is and to check wtih your doctore first.
I totally disagree with having red wine at dinner. our doctor told us if you do not drink wine, don't start because of this diet. To us it's a new lifestyle as we combine exercise and sleep with the good diet.
Not sure if you really need to know about what kitchen utensils and appliances you should be using. Some of my appliances do the job of 6 other appliances.
There are listings of other sites online to check out along with apps to use.
Funny how it states to use low fat butter and other products but recipes don't use them as ingredients, they use real milk, etc.
We use low fat, low sodium and have no problems when the recipe calls for regular.
This book I could modify but it still doesn't list good and bad fats nor sodium which is what we are more interested in than calories or carbs. So lacking.

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url 2017-08-14 03:01
My sixty-third podcast is up!
The Mercenary Mediterranean: Sovereignty, Religion, and Violence in the Medieval Crown of Aragon - Hussein Fancy

My latest podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it, I interview Hussein Fancy about the employment of Muslim cavalrymen by the Christian kingdom of Aragon in the high Middle Ages. Enjoy!

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review 2017-02-16 15:20
The Mediterranean Diet: Quick and Authentic Recipes for Every Season (Volume 1) - Julia Garcia

THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET quick authentic recipes for every season by JULIA GARCIA
Since my husbands heart attack and talking to the nutritionist we switched to mainly a Mediterranean lifestyle so I was excited to find this cookbook.
Starts out with what a Med diet consists of and then goes into the recipes. Never though of making our own olive oil and we do use enough of it and this book talks about what kind is the best for your needs.
Love how the chapters are broken up into and also has a 7 day meal plan along with shopping list, also a conversion tables and other charts. Like food pyramid and the explanations of what one should have every day vs. once a month.
We have high amounts of fresh grown vegetables in the summer months and our pantry has over 30 spices and herbs to choose from so we are right on track.
Process of making kefir seems to be similar to yogurt-not sure where to get the ingredients kefir grains. We do make our own yogurt in our pressure cooker and it's now after much experimentation coming out great.
Love the color photos. Each recipe has a beautiful color photo of the dish, which allergy free dish, and a summary of the dish.
Prep and cooking time along with servings. Some traditional historic facts about the dish are told.
Fresh ingredient list and how to make the dish along with some nutritional information-FAT content is NOT broken up into good and bad fat and there is no sodium levels.
Tomato stew with rice would be our choice to try. Find some fo the ingredients a bit out of my league: sea bream, eel, squid but i might use the recipe for fish we do eat.
Love the suggestions of making the dish different and other variations to try also for the reicpes.
Cabbage rolls using turkey sounds awesome!  Fascinated by the marinades where you can make a dish something completely different with spices used.
Excerpt from another book by the author is included.  
What I like about this book is it's not only about the recipes of good clean eating but it's a lifestyle where other components come into play: sleep and activity.
Love how the book is broken up into the chapters and all the information is included about the dish-love the summaries and historic facts. Even though some of the names sound a bit too high class you can always substitute for the foods you do buy due to your own dietary needs.
Received this from the author via LibraryThing and this is my honest review.
A KEEPER!

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