Friday, March 16, 2012

My blog has moved!

I have decided to move my blog to Wordpress due the nicer designs (though it is annoying that you can't adjust the font). Here is my new address: I hope my followers here will join me at the new site and continue to follow me there. Happy Friday all!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

New Place to Live and 100 Greatest Books for Kids

We had gone last weekend to look at new rental properties after our last choice, a condo in North Phoenix had fallen through, due to the size of our dog. We had looked at a small house near North Central Phoenix and thought it was cute and very convenient to work. So we put in an application for it. We got word yesterday that we got the house and so we are trying to move in this weekend! After 10 months of living with my parents, I am very ready to move out and be in my own place again, even if that means paying rent and more bills. Money will definitely be tight but I'm sure we can do it.

The other awesome and a bit random news I got this morning was from my email. As people who read regularly probably already know, I write book reviews on Goodreads as well as on this blog. I got an email from a self-published Young Adult author who has written a swashbuckling girl dealing with pirates in the 18th century book, and had read some of my reviews on Goodreads and decided that I gave my honest opinion on books. He's trying to get the word out about his book, so he asked me if I would be willing to read and review his book. I think this is so cool and plus I would get a free book! So I will definitely be doing that.

I found this list the other day while on FB and wanted to share it, since it was a great list of classic children's books. I figure I have read at least 31 of them, and probably parts of several more.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

YA Manga Book Reviews

From Jan 25-Feb 21, 2012. Total so far this year: 56

Young Adult
Library Wars: Love and War, Vol 2 by Kiiro Yumi
In this volume, Iku's roommate discovers that the temporary head director is taking books that the Board of Education has banned and hiding them away. The bad guys (the Media Betterment Committee) is sighted on library property and there is a militant library operation, led by the Task Force, to stop them. Iku gets caught in the crossfire and Dojo must again save her. Meanwhile, her co-worker Tezuka has asked her out, which she finds strange since he seemed to despise her before. A 17 yr old boy has murdered some people and the police come to the director of the Library Task Force to ask for his library records, which the director refuses to give because he believes in protecting the boy's privacy. Dojo and Iku have a talk and he tells her it is okay to be herself, something that no one has ever said to her before. Recommended for ages 14+, 5 stars.

Library Wars: Love and War, Vol 3 by Kiiro Yumi
This volume is jam-packed full of action! The PTA is holding a protest on books that should be banned after the murder that the 17 yr old committed in Vol. 2, on the lawn of the library, when two kids decide to do some protesting of their own with fireworks. The kids are quickly caught and made to apologize to the PTA, but then Major Genda gets them to make their case at a forum held by the libraries and a group called CFOC (Caring for the Future of Our Children), which are for book censorship. A friend of the Major's is an editor for a local magazine is covering the forum and trouble ensues when Iku's photo is taken. There are several more instances of Iku and Dojo embracing right as someone walks in. The Museum of Information is closing and its materials, which are on the history of the MBC (the bad guys), is being transferred to the Library, which expects the MBC to retaliate and try to steal the records. Dojo puts Iku on protection duty of the Library Director, while the rest of the team is set to protect the library. She is of course pissed off because she thinks that he doesn't think she is good enough. The library director and Iku are kidnapped by terrorists associated with the MBC. Recommended for ages 14+, 5 stars.

Library Wars: Love and War, Vol 4 by Kiiro Yumi
In this volume, Iku manages to send a message to Library headquarters in code to tell them where she and the Director are being held. So they are quickly saved. It is finally revealed (although I guessed  a few volumes ago) that Dojo is Iku's mysterious prince from a few years ago, that saved her in the bookstore and rescued her book from the MBC. It turns out he was punished severely for what he did, and when he saw her a few years later at the interview to get into training for the Task Force, she never knew that it was him. He liked her because she had passion for what she does, something he lost along the way. Dojo told her he was proud of her and what she did to save the Director. The big problem Iku has in this book is that she hasn't told her parents that she is on the Task Force, the militant wing of the library, just that she works in the library, because they wouldn't let her do what she loves to do. They are coming to visit and she has to hide the fact that she is in the Task Force. The funniest part of the whole manga was when Dojo decided to throw a party for Iku and she has alcohol for the first time and gets really drunk off two drinks, and Dojo has to take care of her again. Well that and when her other superior officer, Komaki, is eating in the booth right behind Iku and her parents and hears her talk about her prince and he can't stop laughing. Recommended for ages 14+, 5 stars.

Library Wars: Love and War, Vol 5 by Kiiro Yumi
This series is so addictive! I got really bummed when the county library didn't have the rest of the series, until I found out Phoenix Public did have it, so I reserved the rest of the series thus far. In this volume, Iku managed to fool her mother although her dad found out but didn't tell her mother or freak out about it. Iku's other instructor, Komaki, has a friend named Marie (a young deaf girl) who he gets books for. Iku can see that she's in love with him, even though Dojo thinks that's impossible since they are about 10 yrs apart. Komaki is taken by the MBC and accused of abusing Marie by giving her a book about a deaf girl, and that he was making fun of her. The MBC tortured him for three days until the Task Force found his location and broke in with Marie to explain to the MBC the real situation. Komaki confesses that he likes Marie.  
My favorite part of the manga was the 2nd bonus manga where Dojo, Komaki, Iku and Tezuka are at a party thrown by the library on protection duty and Iku damages her clothes, so the ladies at the hotel make her over and even Dojo is blown away (though he pretends like it doesn't faze him). Iku is getting hit on left and right and Dojo acts all aggressive/possessive, which is pretty funny.  Recommended for ages 14+, 4 stars.
Library Wars: Love and War, Vol 6 by Kiiro Yumi
It's Valentine's Day at the beginning of this volume, where apparently it is traditional in Japan for a girl to give chocolates to the guy she likes. Tezuka tries to ask out Shibazaki but gets turned down, but then a cute customer asks her out and she accepts. We see a side of her that she doesn't normally show to others, the act she puts on to survive, and how she really trusts Kasahara as a friend. Meanwhile the Weekly World News magazine has printed an article about the teen serial killer and it has been banned by the new head librarian, which shocks everyone in the Library Task Force. We learn a little bit more about Kasahara and Tezuka's families. I think the slapstick between Kasahara and Dojo definitely goes up in this volume, esp in the bonus manga with the bank robbers. Overall, it was an okay volume with some really funny parts but not as good as the last 5 volumes. Recommended for ages 14+, 3 stars.

Library Wars: Love and War, Vol 7 by Kiiro Yumi
This volume was kind of boring in comparison to the others, even though they did finally tell you some things that they had been hinting at forever. There is a mysterious reviewer on the library's website, and the Library Task Force find out it is Sunagawa, Tezuka's roommate. The reader is finally introduced to Tezuka's older brother who works for the Library Association of Japan. He and his younger brother had a falling out once he found out that the elder believed that the library should become a central government agency, which takes away from its autonomy and freedom from censorship (basically goes against everything the Library Task Force is for). Iku, because of a stupid mistake, finds herself drawn into the investigation of Sunagawa and becomes their main target. Everyone who works for the library believe she is responsible for burning books, although she is innocent. Recommended for ages 14+, 3 stars.

Emma, Volume 3 by Kaoru Mori
I thought the beginning of this volume was really slow, but I guess she showed this scene to show William's life in comparison to Emma's. Either way, I thought it was frivolous and took away from the storyline. Volume 3 starts off at Emma on the train heading home to the coast with the young maid named Tasha whose mistress mistakenly thought Emma was her maid. Tasha and Emma end up in the same train car and strike up a conversation. Next is a boating party with William, two of his sisters, his brother, Eleanor, and a few other single ladies and a gentleman. William looks bored through the whole thing but it was more about the single ladies talking about Eleanor liking William and who they want in a husband. William is soon involved in all these society events and his friend Hakim wonders why. William explains that he hates all these events but feels that he must do it as a member of the uppe class, and I think in a way to forget about Emma. Next we see Emma arriving at the country house that Tasha works at to get a job. She is taught how to do things by Adele, the head maid, and catches on quickly. The servants are allowed to have a party and Emma does not participate, and is noticed by Hans, another servant. It seems he is interested in her though no one knows anything about her. Emma realizes that half the servants and the family is German. Emma because distraught thinking about William but keeps it to herself, crying alone. She ends up being selected by Adele and Mrs. Beeks (the head servant) to be the maid to accompany Mrs. Meredith, the mistress, on her travels. They go meet a Mrs. Trollop, who is very daring in her choice of hairstyle and dress. When they leave, the reader realizes that Mrs. Trollop has had relations with William, but it is not implied how exactly. Could she be his sister or another governess? Recommended for ages 13+, 4 stars.

Emma, Volume 4 by Kaoru Mori
In this volume, William and Eleanor go to the Opera to see "The Barber of Seville" (one of my favorite operas) and he realizes that she is in love with him. We are introduced to Eleanor's fiesty and overprotective married sister Monica, who thinks that William is jerking Eleanor around and goes to confront him. Shortly afterward, William proposes to Eleanor, who accepts. Meanwhile, Emma is preparing to go to London with Mrs. Meredith (Dorothea) as her hand maid. Dorothea and Emma meet Mrs. Trollop while they are out and Emma is borrowed to be Mrs. Trollop's maid for a ball she is going to. Mrs. Trollop decides to dress up Emma as a guest rather than a maid and no one recognizes her at the ball until the reader realizes that the ball that is being thrown is in celebration of William and Eleanor's engagement. William recognizes her at once and she faints. William goes to see if she is alright, and they kiss and makeup, only to be discovered by his mother, Mrs. Trollop, who makes them explain the whole situation. Recommended for ages 13+, 4 stars.

Emma, Volume 5 by Kaoru Mori
This one is probably one of my favorites thus far because the story is actually progressing at a faster rate than normal. The reader is first introduced to the story of how William's mother (Aurelia) and father (Richard) met, married and separated. Emma goes back to Haworth with the Merediths. Aurelia and Richard discuss William and Emma's situation and hope that they will be able to face the reality of not being together. Emma helps avert a fire that would've destroyed the Meredith's home. Emma and William start corresponding by letter and he makes a surprise visit to see her, which now makes everyone at the house privy to what has been going on. We are introduced to Eleanor's parents. Recommended for ages 13+, 5 stars.

Emma, Volume 6 by Kaoru Mori
William decides he needs to break off the engagement with Eleanor and in order to avoid this, his future in-laws arrange for Emma to be kidnapped, create a fake "I'm giving you up" up later and shipped to America to get her out of the way. Vivi, William's little sister, is a whiny brat the whole volume. William has to tell Eleanor again that he is breaking off their engagement later on in the book and his father is furious. Recommended for ages 13+, 4 stars.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I would just like to reiterate before I give this review how much I love John Green's work. He just has some really insightful and hilarious things to say in his books. This is an awesome book, though tragic and hard to read at times given the subject matter.
It is about Hazel, a 16 year old with cancerous lungs and a boy she meets through her Cancer Support Group, 17 yr old Augustus who had a rare form of leg cancer and lost his leg (he has a prosthesis). Hazel hated going to group until she met Augustus and he fell hard for her, though she had problems doing the same given his past relationship history and her current condition. It wasn't until he lets her go to Amsterdam with him to meet her favorite author (who turns out to be a douche, but a douche for a reason that you don't find out till the end) that she lets herself fall in love with him. It is short-lived however, as his cancer resurfaces. Although it was a very sad book, it was hopeful in a life-sucks-but-love-makes-things-bearable kind of way. Recommended for ages 14+, 5 stars.

Legends of the Dark Crystal, Vol. 1: The Garthim Wars by Barbara Randall Kesel
First off, I loved Dark Crystal the movie. So I figured this would be good as well. It was alright, it is supposed to be a prequel to the movie version but the storyline is very similar to the original. The Skesis are ruling and draining gelflings (who are more abundant at this point) for their essence, to keep the emperor looking young. The Garthim (giant beetle-looking things)are still being used to round up things and Lahr, the main character of the novel, has figured out a way to kill them. He discovers another gelfling, whose village has also been destroyed, and they end up going together to warn the next gelfling village. Basically the village decides to fight and wins the battle...for now. Recommended for ages 13+, 3 stars.

New Job, New Place to Live and Book Reviews

I'm starting my fourth week at the new job and I really like it so far. I get to meet a lot of interesting people and it's a pretty easy job (a lot of typing envelopes, answering phones and putting information into databases). We've narrowed down our search for a new place to live and have found a condo that my hubby and I both like. I have to drop off the paperwork today after work and pay application fees, but hopefully our application will get approved in a couple days and we can go ahead and put down a deposit before someone else grabs it up. Meanwhile, I'm trying to mentally place furniture so we can make sure everything fits as we have definitely gained some furniture since the last time we moved.

I decided to stop using Maricopa County libraries as we are moving soon and there is no branch really close to me where we will be living, plus the main branch of Phoenix Public Library is literally 3 minutes from where I work, so it is super convenient and there will also be a branch library down the street from the condo. I'm still listening to Madame Bovary, which has some wonderful language in it, but then gets boring and tedious with long French place names and 19th century medical practices. Despite this, I am still interested how badly Emma will to screw up her life, with the totally oblivious Charles, before the end of the book. I have also just started a graphic novel version of Fahrenheit 451, which is a little bit easier to get through than the audiobook version. I don't know what it is about books written in the 1950s-60s, but I seem to have trouble staying focused on them.

It seems that I have managed to read 28 books since my last review posting. Those are predominantly mangas, children's picture books and cookbooks, since my attention span seems to be at a loss lately, but that is a pretty impressive amount nonetheless.

Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
A very well done story about slaves with excellent illustrations, courtesy of Kadir Nelson. Henry was born into slavehood and at first lived with his mother and sisters until his master died and they were separated. When he arrived at his new master's tobacco factory, he met a girl who later became his wife and they had three children. When his family is sold to another man, he decides he needs to be free. So he ships himself to Philadelphia in a box, and gains his freedom. Recommended for ages 7 -12, 4 stars.

Flotsam by David Weisner
David Weisner is a genius! It's no wonder this book is an award winner as even though it is wordless, it is such a brilliant, original work of art. The illustrations are so good you literally are transported into another world. I love the one with the octopi. The book is about a young boy who likes to study things on the beach, such as crabs and starfish. He discovers an old-fashioned camera on the beach and goes to develop the photos. He gets these miraculous photos back and is amazed. He takes a picture with the camera and then throws it back in the ocean for someone else to find. Recommended for ages 5+, 5 stars.

The Three Little Pigs: An Architectual Tale by Stephen Guarnaccia
A cute picture book about The Three Little Pigs but each has a different architectural style that they imitate, like the third pig has a house that looks like Frank Lloyd Wright's house, Falling Waters. I enjoyed the end pages which featured architectural elements such as furniture, houses and housewares that were used in the book. It can be read to kids younger than five as the story is pretty simple, but only older kids and adults would appreciate the architectural/design elements of it. Recommended for ages 5-10, 3 stars.

Simeon's Gift by Julie Andrew Edwards and Emma Walton Hamilton
Honestly I gave this book five stars because of the amazing Renaissance-like illustrations, that were so detailed and absolutely gorgeous. Definitely going to have to find more books illustrated by Gennady Spirin. The book comes with an audio CD of actress/singer Julie Andrews Edwards performing the book, which was created by her daughter Emma and herself.
The story is about a young lute-playing minstrel named Simeon who is in love with a noble lady named Sorrel. He thinks his meager income won't be enough for his girl so he sets off to gain more experience so he can write a song worthy of her. He sees and hears many wonderful things including great cities, soldiers, an abbey choir, and all manner of instruments. His head is so confused that he cannot really write his song properly, so he leaves the city and heads back home. On the way, he befriends a bird, fish and doe. When he arrives back home, his beloved is overjoyed at his return and his newfound friend, and suddenly his song pops back into his head fully completed and Sorrel loves it. He goes on to write many more. Recommended for ages 8+, 5 stars.
Coretta Scott by Ntozake Shange
The book is a very well-done biography, in the form of poetry, of civil rights activist and wife to Martin Luther King Jr, Coretta Scott King. I loved the poem by Ntozake Shange, about as much as her poem for the children's book "Ellington Was Not A Street." Kadir Nelson's paintings are amazing as usual, even my 6 month old enjoyed looking at them. Recommended for ages 7+, 4 stars.
Just Mommy and Me by Tara Jaye Morrow
I picked this book out because my nickname for my son is Monkeypants because he is so wiggly and climbs everywhere, plus I just thought the cover image was cute. He enjoyed me reading this book to him. This is an adorable book about a son who imagines him and his mother are monkeys and do things like eat bananas, take naps in the jungle and watch the sunset together. As another reader has said, would be great to read for Mother's Day. Recommended for ages 6 months+, 4 stars.
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker
I randomly found this one at the library after trying to find some new books for my son, and since my hubby works in construction, I thought it would be a good fit for them to read together. It is a cute rhyming bedtime book about the trucks that work at a construction site: Crane Truck, Cement Mixer, Dump Truck, Bulldozer and Excavator. It has details that kids would enjoy like the trucks sleeping with teddy bears and blankets. I think this would be a great book to get for my son when he's a bit older as the text was kind of long for him now. Recommended for ages 2-5, 4 stars.
Cloud Tea Monkeys by Mal Peet
I have been waiting to read this book for ages but never had the time until now. It is a folktale about a young girl who goes with her mother to the tea plantation. Tashi is not old enough to pick the tea leaves, so she plays with the monkeys that live near the mountain instead. One day, Tashi's mother becomes really ill and cannot work and doesn't have the money to get a doctor. Tashi tries to pick leaves herself but the Overseer of the plantation just laughs at her. She is upset and explains her story the monkeys, and then falls asleep. When she awakens, the monkeys have picked special tea leaves for her. The Royal Tea Taster makes a surprise visit and finds out that her special leaves are Cloud Tea leaves, and promises to pay her a pouch of gold coins every year if she can get him more of the leaves. She agrees and takes the money. Her mother gets better, they thank the monkeys with fruit, and live off the money while drinking the special Cloud Tea. Recommended for ages 8-12, 5 stars.
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African-Americans by Kadir Nelson
Heart and Soul is a very well done history of African Americans in the United States (1700s - present day), narrated from the point of view of a Southern African-American woman (in a conversational tone) whose family history stretches from the 1850s to the present day. It includes a timeline and historical note from the author. The illustrations are phenomenal paintings, modeled by the author himself and portrait of some of his family members, and definitely the best part of the book. Recommended for ages 9-12, 5 stars.
The Aviary by Kathleen O'Dell
I picked this book by accident the last time I visited the children's department at the downtown Phoenix library. It was a good random find for browsing down the aisles of the fiction section. Although I figured out part of the storyline at the beginning of the book, most of it was a complete surprise and very well done.
The Aviary is about a 12 year old girl named Clara who has lived most of her life shut away in the Glendoover house, where her mother and a lady named Ruby take care of old Mrs. Glendoover. Clara's mother has always told her that she should never leave the house because she has a heart condition, and Clara has always kept away from the aviary where the five birds are kept, until one day she hears one of them say "Elliot," which opens up a mystery to the young girl. Who were the Glendoover family and what happened to their children, especially their baby son Elliot? What is the truth about Clara and her family's past? To find out, you must read this delightful little book. Recommended for ages 9-12, 4 stars.
Baby's First Year by Rick Walton
This was a very cute rhyming book about a baby's first year milestones, such as smiling, laughing, crawling, and walking. It would be good for a sibling of a new baby. Recommended for ages 6 months - 5 years, 4 stars.
Daisy and the Egg by Jane Simmons
Another cute picture book, with soft painted illustrations, for kids about to become an older brother or sister. Daisy and her mother are awaiting the arrival of Daisy's cousins and her new little brother or sister. Her cousins hatch first and eventually Daisy gets a new baby brother named Pip. Recommended for ages 6 months - 5 years, 3 stars.
China Modern: 1oo Cutting Edge, Fusion Style Recipes for the 21st Century by Ching-He Huang
I have made Vietnamese and Japanese food at home, but honestly Chinese food is pretty intimidating with the complicated recipes and ingredients I've never really tried. However, Ching makes the recipes easy to understand and most of them look really tasty. She has some traditional Chinese recipes, East/West fusion and Chinese mixed with other Asian cultures. Easy recipes like Chili and Pepper Squid, Lychee and Vanilla Ice Cream; to more complicated ones like Vegetable Bao (steamed buns) or Once-a-month Savory-Sour Vegetarian Noodle Soup. 4 stars.
Gary Rhodes New Classics by Gary Rhodes
I will say that the author/chef was very thorough in his research of the recipes and their backgrounds. That was the part that I really liked. However, after having read many cookbooks and websites on classic British cuisine, I have seen most of these recipes before so I didn't find many recipes that I wanted. The other problem is lack of money to buy specialty ingredients, like suet, which is cheap in Britain but expensive over here. 2 stars.
The Three Chimneys: Recipes and Reflections from the Isle of Skye's World Famous Restaurant by Shirley Spear
I enjoyed this becoming a chef memoir of the author and her recipes from her gorgeous little restaurant and B&B in northwest Skye. I had been to this western island of Scotland when I was studying there in 2004, although I only went to the SW portion (It is very ruggedly beautiful). The recipes and photos of the food were gorgeous, though a good number of the ingredients would only be accessible if you lived in the UK or could afford to buy them online. Neverless, it was an enjoyable read about a foray into the restaurant business from two amateurs that turned into an enormous success. 3 stars.
The Museum Vaults: Excerpts from the Journal of an Expert by Marc-Antoine Mathieu
The cover looked interesting, so I picked this up in the Teen graphic novel section at the downtown library (although I don't believe it should've been in the teen section). It was a futuristic look at the Louvre in the fictional subbasements, where the collection is now stored. The graphic novel was making fun of art history and curatorial practices, which I found kind of funny as I majored in art history and museum studies in university. Overall, I thought it was pretty boring, though I liked the Escher-esque black & white art. 2 stars.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happy 200th Birthday Charles Dickens and the ALA Youth Media Awards

I apologize for the second paragraph (having some formatting problems). 

Apparently today is Charles Dickens' 200th Birthday and I found this article on FB that I wanted to share, which contains ten facts you probably didn't know about the author. Apparently bells rang all over London in celebration of his birthday, his resting place in Westminster Abbey was cleaned up, my favorite English actor Ralph Fiennes did a reading from Bleak House at a memorial service for the author at the Abbey (which was also presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury) and Prince Charles cut a cake in honor of the occasion with Camilla at the Dickens Museum. My favorite Dickens work, and yes I'm sorry to say the only one I've actually read, is Tale of Two Cities. It is such a sad story but a good one and of course one of the most quotable of his books, i.e. "It is a far far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known;" and "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." I, like so many others, have seen countless adaptions of his works, such as A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and Great Expectations. I will say though that British actor Simon Callow's portrayal of the great author himself in the BBC production The Mysteries of Charles Dickens is quite good. Here is an interview with the actor about the show. 

The American Library Association (ALA) has released their picks for the 2012 Youth Media Awards after their Midwinter Conference in Dallas on Jan 23. Here is the press release that lists all the award and honor winners. I was surprised by how many I had never heard of. Most of the time I wonder what the people on the award committees are thinking as I sometimes can seriously not get why they picked the books they do pick, but I guess they must be seeing something that I don't see. Anyways, yay to Jack Gantos for winning the Newberry! He is one of my favorite children's writers. I have not read Dead End in Norvelt yet but it is on my to-read list.Congrats to Brian Selznick for a Schneider Family Book Award (ages 9-13) for his amazing book Wonderstruck: A Novel in Words and Pictures. Thanhaha Lai, one of the Newberry honor winner's book Inside Out & Back Again about escaping Vietnam and coming to the US looks interesting. I also want to check out the Caldecott honor book Grandpa Green by Lane Smith, the Coretta Scott King Author Award and honor Ilustrator award winning book by Kadir Nelson Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans, and more that I have yet to discover on the ALA award list. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

February Life Update

I've given up on the State Library and Archives job as it has been 5 weeks now and still no answer. I have not heard back from Everest College, though I think I did a good job with the in-person interview. Meanwhile, last Friday I got a call from the Diocesan House again, wanting me to come back for a meeting. Basically the job opened up again, so they offered me the job and I took it. I started Mon Jan 30 and have just finished up my first week. It has taken me forever to get the hang of the very multi-line phone system (like 20 extensions) but I think I'm finally getting it. So I am currently working for the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona, which covers the entire state (71 churches/groups/foundations). Needless to say, I have been introduced to a whole lotta people in the past week. I found out that we have a very active Spanish ministry (including a Spanish-only church) and a Sudanese church, as apparently a lot of the Lost Boys of Sudan settled in the Phoenix area. I like it when churches are more multicultural. I already know a lot of church lingo, as I am a cradle Episcopalian and my mother is a priest, but I will definitely have to keep learning whilst working in this position. Luckily, everyone is really nice, helpful and patient with me as I learn. It's a part time job (18-20 hrs) but I'm hoping that it will go to full time by next year. It apparently was full time before but because of the economy, they had to downsize. The priests for the most part are pretty cool and super smart, like the Dean of the Cathedral has a PhD in Astrophysics and the Bishop has a PhD in Medieval History (I'm very curious to know what he wrote his dissertation on). 

I'm making a very conscious effort to read more this year, though because of my working now and being ill since Wednesday (baby gave me his cold) that has slowed down a bit. So far I have read 41 books so I am off to a good start. Might have to eventually change my goal from 200 to 366! I am currently reading John Green's new book The Fault in Our Stars, which is brilliant. I'm also tackling some cookbooks, in Chinese and British cooking. Since my hubby is English, I'm always on the lookout for good British cookbooks as he gets nostalgic every now and again. We recently discovered The Cornish Pasty Co. in Tempe, about 45 minutes from us over our anniversary weekend (last Saturday the 28th, 6 yrs). We ended up having the pork/apple/potato and the steak/mushrooms/zucchini/Stilton pasties and they were awesome. We also had Banoffee Pie, which was delicious and I hadn't had in forever! For those who haven't had this dessert, it's basically a graham cracker crust with toffee/caramel, bananas and whipped cream. Simple but amazing. I discovered it when I was studying in Scotland. 

Liam, my 6 month old son, is doing well. He had his wellness checkup recently and weighed in at 18lbs 9oz and was 29 1/2 inches in length. I keep saying he's like a baby in a toddler's body b/c he's so long. He got ill after he was given a mandatory shot and now my mother, father and I all have the crud, i.e. congestion, coughing, sore throat, runny nose, hard to breathe etc. We think Liam might walk before he crawls as he has been practicing in the bouncer that my parents got him. He has been eating solid foods for a little over 2 months now and doing well with them, eating both fruit and veggies. My hubby is doing well in his job. He works for an apartment remodeling company in Phoenix and gets along well with everyone. We are currently looking for a place to live. We wanted to rent a house but everything is just a little bit out of our price range, so we'll probably be looking at apartments or townhouses instead. Problem is finding a half decent one in our price range that's not in a bad area of town, as I want Liam to be safe. We're hoping to have enough money to buy a house of our own by this time next year, and that the prices will still be low. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kazu Kibuishi, Hiromu Arakawa, David W. Cowles, and Giada De Laurentiis

I'm excited about my interview tomorrow with Everest College, although I do tend to get nervous around committee interviews. Luckily it is easy to get to, and I hope to have a few to walk around the library if we don't do it in the interview. I started to listen to the audiobook version of  Madame Bovary today, which was a Banned Book Club pick, which I am temporarily not doing until we move to the new place. 

Young Adult
Flight, Volume 1 edited by Kazu Kibuishi
I picked up this volume after picking up Kibuishi's "Amulet, Book 4: The Last Council," and finally decided that I wanted to read more of the author's work. The book is a collection of up-and-coming comic/graphic novel creators, and they are all-based on the idea of flight. My favorites were Derek Kirk Kim (author of "Good as Lily"), Kazu Kibuishi, Jake Parker, Vera Brosgol (author of "Anya's Ghost"), Jen Wang, Neil Babra, Rad Sechrist, and Phil Craven's work. Recommended for ages 12+, 3 stars. 

Fullmetal Alchemist, Vol. 2 (Fullmetal Alchemist #2) by Hiromu Arakawa
In this volume, Ed and Al go with Colonel Mustang (the Flame Alchemist and Ed's superior officer) to see the leading specialist on biological transmutation, Shou Tucker, the "Sewing Life Alchemist". Ed is excited to get into Shou's archives to do research and Al befriends Shou's daughter. Everything is going great until Ed realizes the truth behind the chimeras that Shou creates. For his transgressions against God, a mysterious man kills both Shou and his new creation, and tries to kill more state alchemists. He manages to severely damage both Ed and Al, so much that they have to go to the mechanic back in their home town. On the way there, Major Armstrong recognizes a doctor from the civil war who used to work for the military. The reader finds out that he is/was working with the two shady characters from the first book, Lust and Greed. Their mission is never explained, but it seems that they are up to no good.

I liked this book, but I wished they explained more about the Shou Tucker and his daughter part like they did in the anime. It is one of the most disturbing part of the series. My favorite part was the introduction of Alex Louis Armstrong, the "Strong Arm Alchemist". I thought his character was hilarious in the anime. Recommended for ages 14+, 3 stars.

The Deli Maven's Cookbook by David W. Cowles

Well I definitely know more about the origin of the Jewish Deli than I ever knew before. The author breaks it down into many categories, not all of which I really think should be in the book, but there ya go. He first describes what a deli is, his search for a good deli in Washington state, and true tales of the deli (including quotes and jokes). He then describes the recipes for the items one usually finds in a deli, such as homemade pastrami, beef brisket, pastrami lox (which is apparently lox cured like pastrami), potato knishes, lox/scrambled eggs/onions (which I had never tried until the other day at a breakfast place and was delicious), cheese blintzes, Dilly Deli Horseradish Mustard and more. 3 stars.

Weeknights with Giada: Quick and Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner by Giada de Laurentiis
This is an ARC from Netgalley. 
Normally I love watching Giada on Food Network, she always makes yummy looking Italian recipes and it is pleasant to watch her show. Giada's daughter will be 4 years old by the time the book is published and the author wanted to make more healthy meals for her family and share them with others. Now as a new mom, I can appreciate what she is trying to do. While the pictures make the recipes look even more appetizing, I found the recipes to be a bit too mainstream and boring. 2 1/2 stars.