food & drink

Wine: A Beginner’s Guide


Author: Ken Fredrickson, Master Sommelier
Publisher: Rockridge Press
Genre: Food & Drink
ISBN: 978-1-64611-04-4
Pages: 160
Price: $14.99

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Wine is simple to drink, but complicated to understand. Why do people recommend white wine with some foods, and red wine with others? How does wine pairing really work? If you’ve always been curious, Wine: A Beginner’s Guide will answer these and many other questions for you.

First, the author explains the wine-making process from harvest to bottling. Then he touches on the various flavor elements in wine that give them their distinct tastes. Various reds, whites, sparkling and dessert wines are described in detail, along with regions where they may be found. Once we understand what we’re looking for, he explains the tasting process. Finally, we learn how to pair food and wine in combinations that will work best for us.

Ultimately, how we taste and perceive a wine is up to our own individual taste. But with Wine: A Beginner’s Guide, we’ll be ready to select our favorites quickly and easily. This book is a perfect guide for the wannabe sommelier.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

cooking

The Essential Air Fryer Cookbook for Beginners


Author: Laurie Fleming
Publisher: Rockridge Press
Genre: Cooking
ISBN: 978-1-64611-151-0
Pages: 142
Price: $16.99

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Air fryers are fun kitchen tools, but you need good recipes to make them work. The Essential Air Fryer Cookbook for Beginners offers explanations on how the air fryer works, tips and tricks to make every meal a success, and lots of good recipes to try.

These recipes include breakfast, snacks and appetizers, seafood, poultry, beef, pork, lamb, vegetables, sides, and desserts. A general cooking chart also gives cooking times and temperatures for various meats, frozen items, fruits, and vegetables.

The author enjoys highly seasoned food, and I had to modify some recipes to suit my palate. But if you’re looking for a good cookbook to guide you into air fryer cooking, this would be a great place to start.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children

The Word Pirates


Author: Susan Cooper
Illustrator: Steven Kellogg
Publisher: Neal Porter Books
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-8234-4359-8
Pages: 40
Price: $18.99

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The pirates are hungry, and what they love to eat is words! So they let their flock of Bumblebirds loose and wait for them to bring back some tasty morsels. As the birds collect words for the pirates, books are left empty of their stories.

But one day the Bumblebirds lift the words from the Word Wizard’s book. She won’t let them steal her stories, and she fights back with a magic pen. The pirates are no match for the powerful Wizard, and soon find themselves stranded on a island, planting vegetables to eat, and learning how to read.

The Word Pirates is a fun story that kids will read over and over again. They’ll be giggling at the fate of the pirates as they learn how to appreciate words, rather than eat them.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children

I’m Brave! I’m Strong! I’m Five!


Author: Cari Best
Illustrator: Boris Kulikov
Publisher: Margaret Ferguson Books
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-8234-4362-8
Pages: 32
Price: $18.99

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It’s time for bed, but this little girl isn’t sleepy. She peeks out her window, notices what’s going on around her, and shuts the drapes. She could have asked Mom and Dad for help, but she’s brave, strong, and five, and she can handle it herself.

Next she sees a menacing shadow and turns on the light to see what it is. Proud of her bravery once again, she climbs back into bed only to hear a big crash. But she also handles this problem herself, without calling Mom and Dad. A third incident is handled in the same way.

I’m Brave! I’m Strong! I’m Five! celebrates a young girl’s steps toward independence, as she confronts nighttime problems and fears by herself. This cute bedtime story would be a great addition to any youngster’s collection.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

teen

It’s Over (Status Updates #2)


Author: Laura L. Smith
Publisher: Birch House Press
Genre: Young Adult
ISBN: 978-0-9962770-0-6
Pages: 304
Price: $11.99

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How do you hang on when the most terrible tragedy strikes? For four college roommates, their faith in God, family, and friendship are the pillars they lean on. Each of these girls faces the fact that “it’s over” in some way in their lives, and they will need to deal with their issues in order to move past them and grow from them. It’s a story of real life, and nothing is sugar-coated.

This is the second book in the Status Updates series, and even though I didn’t read book one, I was able to pick up this story quickly with no worrying that I’ve missed something. The girls’ reactions to the problems they faced are convincing and real, and teen girls will easily identify with how they felt about life and each other. I highly recommend It’s Over.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

fantasy, teen, tween

The Thorn Queen


Author: Elise Holland
Publisher: SparkPress
Genre: Fantasy / Young adult
ISBN: 978-1-943006-79-3
Pages: 256
Price: $16.95

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Meylyne has done something she’s not allowed to do in her world, and she is going to be punished for it. But before she accepts her fate, she visits the Well for advice. Surprisingly, she is encouraged to do something unexpected, which will force her to leave home. But the Well has provided her with a companion for her travels.

Her journey is not easy, and Meylyne meets some interesting characters along the way. Learning who to trust is a challenge, and she is suspicious of everyone. But as she grows stronger in her knowledge of what must be done to save the world that she knows and loves, her determination grows just as strong. And when she faces the final test, her life changes in more ways than she could ever imagine.

The Thorn Queen draws the reader in quickly, as they hope Meylyne can extricate herself from the difficult situation she finds herself in. And her perilous journey is a quick wild ride to its climax. I really enjoyed this book and I hope to see more from this very talented new author.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art

Watercolor the Easy Way


Author: Sarah Berrenson
Publisher: Better Day Books
Genre: Art
ISBN: 978-0-7643-5982-8
Pages: 128
Price: $24.99

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Watercolor painting can be an enjoyable pastime, if you know what you’re doing. But if you haven’t picked up a paint brush in years and art classes aren’t available or affordable, Watercolor the Easy Way will help guide you.

First, we learn the basics: supplies, color palette and mixing, brush and water techniques. Then we try these out in fifty different motifs. Each exercise provides a line drawn outline for us to copy, along with the color palette and brushes to use, and step by step instructions. The book is printed on sturdy paper that easily props open to study while working.

If you’ve wanted to learn watercolor painting but felt too intimidated to try it, Watercolor the Easy Way would be a great introduction to the art. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

animals, children, dogs

Why Do Dogs Sniff Butts?


Author: Dr. Nick Crumpton
Illustrator: Lily Snowden-Fine
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Genre: Children / Dogs
ISBN: 978-0-500-65223-7
Pages: 48
Price: $16.95

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Have you ever wondered why dogs sniff butts? Or what their wagging tails mean? Do you know about the various jobs dogs were bred to perform? Or why dogs chase cats? If you’re fascinated with man’s best friend and just want to know more about them, Why Do Dogs Sniff Butts? is the perfect book for you.

Filled with lots of interesting facts about dogs, this illustrated book is a fun read for kids or any dog lover. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

animals, children, nature

Whose Track is That?


Author: Stan Tekiela
Publisher: Adventure Publications
Genre: Children / Nature / Animals
ISBN: 978-1-59193-958-0
Pages: 52
Price: $14.95

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If you were hiking in the woods and came across an animal track, would you be able to identify it? Whose Track is That? is a fun way to learn which animals might make the tracks you find.

This book features animals tracks for 11 different animals. First, we see a close-up photo of what it looks like, along with a description and a clue as to what it might be. Then when we turn the page, the animal is identified, along with photos and interesting information about it. The appendix shows all animal tracks with some additional pointers to help in identification.

Stan Tekiela has created another fun activity book for kids with his beautiful photography and knowledge of nature. I highly recommend Whose Track is That?

Reviewer: Alice Berger

cats, mystery, tween

Ra the Mighty: The Great Tomb Robbery


Author: A.B. Greenfield
Illustrator: Sarah Horne
Publisher: Holiday House
Genre: Middle grade / Mystery / Cats
ISBN: 978-0-8234-4240-9
Pages: 256
Price: $16.99

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Ra the Mighty has just successfully solved his last case, and now he’s settled back into his usual and very enjoyable pampering as Pharaoh’s Cat. When his friends Khepri (a dung beetle) and Miu (a kitchen cat) suggest they need a new mystery to solve, he’s not initially excited. But when Ra sees the damage done during a tomb robbery and suddenly finds himself stranded in a worker village, he realizes he must act quickly.

Working in teams, the friends split up, accompanied by a distant cousin of Miu. They tackle the evidence and determine who is the most likely suspect. But would a daring nighttime visit to the tombs be the most helpful investigation of all? Ra must use all his wits to stay alive and return to Pharaoh’s court.

Ra is quite the character, as he shares his thoughts on personal grooming – both his and Khepri’s. He’s also a reluctant sleuth, preferring to nap when others are searching for clues. But when it really matters, Ra is willing to rise to the occasion and save the day. The Great Tomb Robbery is a light-heated and enjoyable read for all ages.

Reviewer: Alice Berger