Thursday, May 25, 2017

Food52: Ice Cream & Friends



Food52's Ice Cream & Friends is dedicated to providing an array of ice cream and frozen treat recipes. When I received the book, I devoured the cookbook. As I poured through each and every recipe and it's lovely photographs (I ended up looking it over multiple times), I couldn't wait to try some of the recipes.

This ice cream cookbook doesn't have recipes for the typical flavors you would buy at a supermarket like strawberry, cookies and cream, coffee, so if you are looking for that, this isn't the book for you. This cookbook offers 60 recipes of very unusual and exotic ice cream flavors, such as Lemongrass Chile Ginger, Peanut Butter Curry, S'mores, Saltine Cracker-Brownie Sandwich, Black Pepper Feta, Burnt Toast, and many more. I have to admit, I was very afraid of trying many of the recipes because they sounded so unusual. So for my first recipe, I opted for a safer recipe: Mango Lassicles. I love mango lassi so I figured I would love a mango lassi in popsicle form. It was delicious and very easy to make! I also made the Homemade Sprinkles recipe. While store-bought sprinkles are so convenient and cheap, being able to make my own sprinkles for the children seem healthier.

I love this cookbook! I love having a cookbook just dedicated to ice cream. One of these days, I will muster up the courage to try out the Peanut Butter Curry Ice Cream recipe.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Crazy Upbringing: A Review on Crazy Is My Super Power by AJ Mendez Brooks


AJ Mendez Brooks' current memoir, Crazy Is My Super Power, was a fascinating read. Despite growing up dirt poor with irresponsible and dysfunctional parents, Brooks turned her life around. I don't watch WWE or know anything about wrestling, but I found Brooks' determination, self-awareness, and scrappiness very refreshing and compelling. I loved how Brooks' dream was to be superhero, and she found a way to make that happen in her own way. Her writing is very real. She didn't sugarcoat anything nor did she shy away from all the embarrassing and ugly parts of her childhood. I would definitely recommend this book to my friends and especially to young girls and women.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters


Emily Esfahani Smith's book, The Power Of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters, was a powerful and insightful read. Through her research, Smith argues that a person's pursuit of life's meaning can be achieved by making connections with people to feel like you belong, finding a purpose in life, making sense of our experiences through storytelling, and seeking transcendent experiences.

All the stories in the book were all very touching and compelling, from the veteran whose life spiraled out of control but used his pain and suffering to help other veterans to a young gay man's story at The Moth about how his parents refusal to accept his sexual orientation lead him to put a pause on his life. All the stories perfectly illustrates the four pillars of meaning (Belonging, Purpose, Storytelling and Transcendence), according to Smith.

After reading this book, it is making me seriously think about aspects of my own life (areas that I need to work on) to achieve the meaning in my life that I want. I highly recommend to book to anyone who is interested in a self-help book or just a book that will get you thinking about your own life and what it means to you.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Moth Presents All These Wonders


I had only recently heard of the The Moth Storytelling when I was watching Lena Dunham's "Girls". On one of the episodes, Dunham's character goes on The Moth to tell her story about her break-up. When I got an opportunity to review The Moth Presents All These Wonders: True Stories About Facing the Unknown edited by Catherine Burns with foreward by Neil Gaiman, I jumped on the opportunity. I LOVE short stories because it works well for my short attention span when it comes to fiction.

The stories in this compilation are all very raw and honest. Some stories are sad and some are more happy and funny, but all the stories are very compelling, and I just couldn't put the book down. There are 45 intriguing stories in this compendium. The stories range from a child soldier from Sierra Leone to a child surviving the concentration camp to more lighthearted stories about an author writing a controversial children's book that was meant for the parents.

All the stories in this book were originally told live in front of an audience. That is the whole premise of The Moth, it is live storytelling. I imagine these stories were even more dynamic and captivating when they were told live. I would love to attend a Moth live storytelling one day.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.  

Saturday, March 4, 2017

A Review of Democracy In Black by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.


Democracy in Black by Eddie S. Glaude Jr. was a thought-provoking and eye-opening read. This novel comes at such a troubling time in America when unarmed black men were being gunned down by police officers at an alarming rate. Glaude argues that in our society there is a "value gap" where we value white people over colored people. Glaude also argues that everyone has "racial habits," and it's our racial habits that shape us and our lives which reinforces our value gap. To uproot the racial inequality in our value gap and value habits, Glaude offers up three components of a revolution of value: (1) change the view of our government; (2) change how we view black people by changing how we see white people; (3) change what matters to us as Americans by telling better stories.

This book couldn't come at a better time. With all the chaos that has been going on with our government, I can't help but evaluate my own thoughts, feelings, values, and concerns about our society and our culture during this time. I don't know if our society will ever find peace and equality, but we need books like Democracy in Black to push us to evaluate our own personal values and to look into our racial habits in hopes to achieve racial equality one day.


Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Review of Disaster Falls by Stephane Gerson


Stephane Gerson's memoir, Disaster Falls, is a tragic story about the author's devastating lost of his eight year old son, Owen, during a family rafting trip on the Green River in Utah. The book chronicles the family's loss and how each family member (Stephane, Alison, and Julian) deals with losing Owen. Gerson also researches the history of the Green River and discovers how dangerous it is. The rafting guide the Gerson's went with assured them the trip was safe. Gerson had a bad gut feeling that it might be too dangerous but decided to go through with it anyway. Following Owen's death, the Gerson's decide to make a pact to stick together no matter what. Usually, the lost of a child would tear just about any family apart. The way the Gerson's stuck together is a testament to their strong bond. This book was a raw and heart-wrenching look into a family who had to endure the unimaginable and survived.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Review of The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook by Helen You



Let me just start off by saying I LOVE DUMPLINGS! I was so excited when I saw The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook by Helen You was available to review. I jumped at that chance. What perfect timing too because it's almost Chinese New Year (Year of the Rooster) so it's time to make DUMPLINGS! First and foremost, I didn't realize The Dumpling Galaxy is actually a restaurant owned by Helen You in Flushings, Queens, New York. I wish I lived in New York so I can try You's famous dumplings.

Since I live far away from New York, I will have to make my own dumplings using You's cookbook. I love all the unusual dumplings; there are so many! I am only familiar with the basic pan-fried pork dumplings (potstickers) and dim-sum's pork dumplings (shumai) or shrimp dumpling (ha-gow). Helen You presents some classic dumplings like Pork and Chive Dumplings, Chicken and Cabbage Dumplings, Pork and Mushroom Shumai. There are a number of unusual dumplings that I have never heard of like Pork and Century Egg Dumplings, Pork and Pu'er Tea Dumplings, Dried Octopus and Chive Dumplings, Cod and Fish Roe Dumplings, Lamb and Pickled Mustard Green Dumplings, and many more. You's dumpling recipes ALL look scrumptious! I can't wait to try them.

The cookbook is broken up into six sections as follows: Chinese Dumplings 101, Classic Dumplings, Green Dumplings, Faraway Flavors, Dessert Dumplings, Sauces and Sides. I've only made dumplings once, and it wasn't as daunting and scary as I thought it would be. My children and I are going to make You's Pork and Cabbage Dumplings for Chinese New Year. Happy Year of the Rooster everyone! Now, go get some dumplings!

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Nerd Camp Briefs: Nikhil and The Geek Retreat



In celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day 2017, I received Nerd Camp Briefs: Nikhil and The Geek Retreat written by Elissa Brent Weissman and published by Olive Street Press. This is my first year participating in the Multicultural Children's Book Day so needless to say, I was ecstatic when I signed up and received my book to review. Multicultural Children's Book Day is a great event, and I LOVE that it's mission is to raise awareness about diversity and making books that celebrate diversity available in classrooms and libraries.

Nikhil and The Geek Retreat is a quirky and quick read about Nikhil and his weekend retreat at the Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment. At the retreat, Nikhil meets up with his best friends, Gabe and Wesley, where they geek out on favorite presidents, great explorations, trading element cards, and NASA presentations. This time, however, Nikhil will have to babysit his younger, and oftentimes troublesome sister, Monisha. Fearing that his sister will get into trouble, Nikhil does not want to be banned from returning to the retreat for the upcoming summer. So Nikhil and his friends will have to figure out a way to keep Monisha out of trouble.

This is a funny story, and I appreciate reading a book about smart children geeking out at a special educational camp. Nikhil is like a parent's dream come true. Who else would think that homework is the highlight of most days! I think Nikhil and his friends would be great role models for children, showing them that it's okay to be a geek and to attend nerd camp.

Since Nikhil and his friends played and traded chemical element cards, I thought my children and I can play with a periodic table tile set that we have but never played with.


ETA HAND2MIND PERIODIC TABLE CONNECTING TILES

 
We also found a periodic table song by ASAP Science on Youtube that they loved listening to and it helped them learn the elements.

Nikhil and The Geek Retreat is the third book in the Nerd Camp series. To learn more about the other Nerd Camp books or Weissman's other books featuring smart children, check out her website here.







Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.  
Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include ScholasticBarefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. RomanAudrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTVCapstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle SwiftWisdom Tales PressLee& Low BooksThe Pack-n-Go GirlsLive Oak MediaAuthor Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books




We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
MCBD Links to remember:
MCBD site: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta
Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teachers-classroom-kindness-kit/
Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents: http://bit.ly/1sZ5s8i

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with is on social media and be sure and look for/use their official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Review of Batgirl at Super Hero High (Audiobook)


Lisa Yee has written her third installment to the DC Super Hero Girls chapter books, and this time, the story is about tech prodigy, Barbara Gordon AKA Batgirl.  In Batgirl at Super Hero High, computer genius, Barbara Gordon, gets a chance to join the other super heroes at Super Hero High. I absolutely LOVE that DC finally decided to showcase the heroines with DC SuperHero Girls. I have the comics and have read them. I LOVE the fact that little girls have powerful, strong, kick-some-butt role models, and that superheroes are not just for boys.

This review is based only on the audio since that is the product I received to review. I've listened to quite a few children's audiobooks, but I was not impressed with Mae Whitman's narration. My children could not finish listening to the audiobook because they were too bored with it. I do, however, love the story of Batgirl.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A Review of Red: A Crayon's Story-A Story About Acceptance


My family and I recently re-read Michael Hall's picture book Red: A Crayon's Story, and it is a beautifully written book. My children had me read it and re-read it. We have rechecked it out from the library again, so I am thinking that it is time to purchase our own copy. Red is a story of a blue crayon who was mislabeled as red. Everyone, including Red's parents, family and friends keep telling Red that he needs to work hard and to keep trying to fit in. Red was forced to conform, clipped by a scissor to loosen the wrapper label, and sharpened by a pencil sharpener to see if they can help change Red. It's a sad story but it's written really well for children to comprehend. Finally, Red meets a friend, Berry, who accepts Red for who he is and asked him to make a blue ocean for Berry's boat. It was because of Berry's acceptance that Red realizes that he is actually Blue. Awww, I just love Berry! Such a sweet crayon! Now, all the other crayons are amazed at Blue's abilities. Even though I think it's a sad story, it has a happy ending.

Now, my children don't think the story is sad at all. They think it's really cute, and they love all the different color crayons in the book (Amber, Grape, Sunshine, Sea Green, Cocoa Bean, etc). After I re-read the book several times, my 3 year old ran upstairs to work on something. She later reappeared with her own creations of Red and the other crayons in hand.



I absolutely LOVE when a book inspires my children to create something! I think this book is a wonderful book that illustrates to children how we should all accept someone for who they are. It's a great book to talk about acceptance, kindness, empathy, and celebrating one's uniqueness with your children.

Have you read Red: A Crayon's Story? What did you think about it?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Our Weekly Favorite Read Aloud

Every week, I would like to put together our family's favorite read aloud for the week.

This week, our favorite includes some older books which we reread and some new ones.

 KIMONOS


Kimonos is a new release from Annelore Parot. I found this book at the library and thought the chibis are so cute. Kimonos is a little bit like Where's Waldo where you go and find the Kikoshi dolls in the book. The illustrations are suuuupppper kawaii (cute in Japanese, I think), and I love how they include information about Japanese culture and words. It is also an interactive book with flaps.

Another new book we really enjoyed this week is Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea! by Ben Clanton. If you would like to see my previous posts about this funny and educational book, please click here

NARWHAL: UNICORN OF THE SEA!




Some older books we've enjoyed this week but keep rereading include the following:


  SCRAMBLED STATES OF AMERICA




ARNIE THE DOUGHNUT



The fantastic Laurie Keller wrote and illustrated The Scrambled States of America and Arnie the Doughnut. These books are my children's favorite picture books of all times. These hilarious books have my children in stitches every single time they read it. It never gets old! My children have learned all 50 states and capitals thanks to The Scrambled States of America. I love children books that are funny and engaging but are also educational. Laurie Keller's books fit the bill. In Arnie the Doughnut, you learn all about the different varieties of doughnuts. From long johns, to french crullers, to cinnamon twists...who knew all the names? I certainly didn't. Our family now has an annual doughnut day where we go and have some doughnuts sine we usually don't consume processed sugar.

What have you been reading? Please comment and let me know. Have a great weekend!

What's a Narwhal? A Review of Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea!


Our family have been fans of Ben Clanton's work for quite some time. We have read and really enjoyed Rex Wrecks It, Table Sets Itself, Mo's Mustache, It Came in the Mail, Vote for Me, and Something Extraordinary. My children's favorite are Rex Wrecks It and Table Sets Itself  due to the silliness and cute drawing (according to them).

My children and I recently read Ben Clanton's latest graphic novel, A Narwhal and Jelly Book: Narwhal Unicorn of the Sea! They LOVED this book because it was right up their alley. First, it was a graphic novel and our family just ADORES graphic novels. Second, it was really cute and super cute illustrations. Third, I liked that it was still educational despite all the cuteness and great illustrations. We learned some interesting facts about narwhals. Quite frankly, I had never even heard of a narwhal.

My children have already asked to me get my hands on the sequel, Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt which releases on May 2, 2017.

The timing of Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea! worked out so well for us. Shortly after we had read the graphic novel, we went to our monthly Lego mini-build which happened to be a narwhal. My children had a blast building their unicorn of the sea.

NOTE: As I am writing this post, my children are eating breakfast while reciting passages from the book. They love it that much.


Lego Story Starter Kit and Lego Batman Movie Minifigures Series

Okay, this IS NOT going to be a post about children's books. However, I wanted to post about another topic that I hold dear to my heart......... Wait for it....... LEGOS!

I recently purchased the Lego Story Starter Kit and Fairy Tale Expansion Kit from Lego Education. Our family is currently obsessed with all things Lego. So I thought I might as well try out their curriculum. I love the Lego Story Starter Kit! There are 1,144 carefully selected pieces to build with. I really like all the accessories that it comes with (various animals, trees, cauldrons, various hats, wands, fairy wings-our favorite). My children bust open the kit everyday so they can play and build with it.

My only gripe is the Fairy Tale Expansion Kit. They give you the head and the body of 4 mermaids, but you DO NOT get the tails. My children were very upset about this, and I don't blame them. How do you give a minifigure a torso, and not give the legs but in this case, the tails. I contacted Lego Education about this, but they never did contact me back. But other than that, my family and I have been enjoying the curriculum.

I really need to take some pictures of some of the creations we have made so I can post them on here. I am thinking about purchasing the More To Math Kit and the WeDo Kit. Maybe later this year since they are on the expensive side.

But ooh, I did get my hands on the new Batman Movie Minifigure Series. I went to the Lego store today and got some of the minifigures. They are AMAZING!


I was able to get Joker, Harley Quinn, Fairy Batman, Batgirl, Barbara Gordon, Lobster Batman, Glam Batman, and Wolverine Batman. I am hoping to get Dick Grayson, Vacation Batman, Commissioner Gordon, and Bunny Girl.

I Love Tacky the Penguin




Today, my family and I re-read Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester. If you haven't read this zany picture book yet, you should run to the library and borrow it. In our family, we have read and re-read it many times, and both my children adore Tacky. Tacky is a wacky and eccentric penguin who marches to the beat of his own drum. Much to his fellow penguins' (Goodly, Lovely, Angel, Neatly, and Perfect) dismay, they find Tacky rather odd. Tacky doesn't march in straight perfect lines, and he doesn't have a beautiful melodic voice. But thanks to Tacky's quirkiness, he saves his companions from the hunters who want to catch the penguins. Tacky manages to outsmart the hunters and scare them away.

My children LOVE this book and the audiobook. They crack up laughing every time we sing the "How Many Toes Does A Fish Have" song. This endearing picture book is a great book about being comfortable and proud of who you are, and Tacky is a great role model.