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At the movies: Chef

February 27, 2015
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I’d wanted to see Chef when it was in theaters but never made it.  We noticed it on Netflix a few weeks ago and decided to watch it.  Chef Carl Casper wants to be more creative when a food critic comes to the restaurant where he works but his boss insists he stick with the basic menu.  When the critic trashes his efforts, Carl tweets his displeasure and the battle lines are drawn.  The critic returns to the restaurant and Carl loses his cool and his job.

With the help of his ex-wife, Carl buys an old food truck and he, his son, and a good friend transform it, helping Carl get his passion back and reconnect with his son.

Chef is a feel-good movie and we all liked it quite a bit but I don’t think any of us loved it.  The story is cute and the acting is fine but the movie dragged in a few places for me.  The cooking/food scenes were just wonderful though.  This movie is well worth watching at home.

weekend cookingI will be linking this up to Weekend Cooking which is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend.

Review: Blue Suburbia

February 26, 2015

Blue Suburbia

Laurie Albanese grew up in what felt like a dead end suburb with parents who had struggles of their own.  Determined to have a better life, she leaves home as soon as she can but has trouble escaping her past.  After years of pain and sorrow, she finally finds a sense of peace in the ordinary.

I loved Blue Suburia: Almost a Memoir by Laurie Lico Albanese.  Written in verse, this book is truly Albanese’s memoir and it’s painful and joyful at the same time.  Her story is sparse yet moving and captivated me right from the start.  I’m in awe of anyone who can tell a story in verse and think telling your own story that way would be even more difficult.

Book Club Girl provided my book club with copies of this book to help us prepare for a Skype chat with Laurie Albanese.  Everyone agreed that the book is wonderful but tough to read at times.   Blue Suburbia is a must read for those who love memoirs and/or novels in verse.

Review copy provided by Harper Collins.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Wondrous Words Wednesday

February 25, 2015

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

I’ve found a couple of words in my latest book club read, The Miracles of Prato by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz.

1. sinopia – “Lucrezia looked at the lively figures indicated in sinopia, and marveled at the lifelike quality of their gestures, the careful proportion of their bodies.”

Sinopia is a dark reddish-brown pigment.


2. predella – “Clasping his hands, Prior General Saviano lifted his eyes to the predella beneath the altarpiece.”

A predella is the platform or step on which an altar stands.


What words do you want to celebrate today?

Review – Maus II: A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Troubles Began

February 24, 2015

Maus II

Last month, I read and reviewed Maus by Art Spiegelman.  Everyone told me I had to read Maus II for the second part of the story and, boy, am I glad I did.  This graphic biography won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for a good reason.

Art Spiegelman’s grandparents survived the Holocaust and in the first Maus, Spiegelman tells their story up until the time they’re sent to concentration camps.  Maus II picks up where the first book left off, with Spiegelman’s father sharing the things he had to do to survive Auschwitz.  Let me tell you, it’s brutal, even in graphic format.  Even though I’ve read several similar stories in the past, I found this one particularly gut wrenching and cried in parts.

Along with his parents’ past, Spiegelman shares his rocky relationship with his father.  His father could be difficult but there were times when I was aggravated with Spiegelman’s impatience with him even though I know dealing with someone like that is much harder when they’re related to you.

All in all, I think this is the more powerful of the Maus books but feel that they’re both must reads.  The drawings are fantastic and do temper the story somewhat so these books would make a fantastic introduction to the Holocaust for teen readers.

I am an Indiebound Affliate.


Mailbox Monday

February 23, 2015

Mailbox Monday Feb 23

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued, and now hosted on its own blog.   This past week started with ice and a little snow and ended with rain.  In between, I got a diagnosis on an eye problem that’s been plaguing me for at least six months, helped work a crazy, busy event at the store and even managed to finish two books.   I found these books in my mailbox last week:




What did you find in your mailbox last week?

Review: The Fashion Book

February 20, 2015

The Fashion Book

Everyone who knows me knows I’m not much of a shopper and have little to no fashion sense –  I’m sure the two are related somehow.  On a whim, I picked up The Fashion Book by DK Publishing and no one was more surprised than I was by how much I liked it.  I found a lot to love in this book aimed at teenage girls.

The Fashion Book covers the history of fashion through the ages and shows how you can put a modern twist on an old style.  It also highlights some fashion mavens like Marie Antoinette and Madonna.  For teens interested in a career in fashion, it shows what’s involved in being a fashion designer or makeup artist.  The back of the book includes some great quotes and an illustrated glossary.

The Fashion Book interior

There’s a lot of information packed in the fully illustrated pages of this book and I learned a lot as I read it.  For instance:

  • In the 1770s ladies wore hoops and pads under their skirts to make their backsides look bigger.
  • Both men and women wore dresses in medieval times.
  • The oldest piece of lace found was buried with an Egyptian mummy.
  • In the 19th century, it was considered “monstrous” to wear jewels in the morning.

I just loved The Fashion Book and recommend it to anyone interested in fashion.  It’s a must have for teens trying to find their own style or those interested in a fashion career.  Be sure to check this book out!

kid konnection newI will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

Review copy provided by DK Publishing. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Review: Fire Shut Up in My Bones

February 19, 2015

Fire Shut Up in My Bones

Charles Blow grew up in a loving but somewhat dysfunctional family.  He had a strong mother and a mostly absent father.  He suffered abuse at the hands of a cousin but kept it to himself out of fear and embarrassment.

Determined to make something of himself, he worked hard and was given the opportunity to attend college.   He was driven to succeed and became class president and pledged a fraternity.  The fraternity’s hazing is brutal but Blow accepts it, not realizing the affect it will have on him.

Blow shares his story in his wonderful memoir, Fire Shut Up in My Bones.  Blow grew up with love but his life wasn’t always easy.  He figured out early on what he wanted in life and realized he had the tools to get him what he wanted.  That doesn’t mean things were easy for him – he faced hardships and setbacks but he never lost sight of his goals and worked hard to achieve them.

I loved Fire Shut Up in My Bones.  Blow’s writing is gorgeous and his story is captivating.  He shows what can be achieved when you dream big and work hard.  I found the book hard to put down and read it very quickly.  If you enjoy memoirs or inspirational stories, you must read this book.

Review copy provided by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

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