JORY || Simmer Down by Jessica Conant-Park & Susan Conant
Tuesday, April 15, 2008 // 12:10 AM
A show of hands, how many of you like Chick Lit books? Uh-huh, I see. How about mysteries? Very good. And now, how many of you love delicious food? Great! Then this book is perfect for you!
Although, to me, the book started off slow (most books do for me anyways... could be because I have a hard time focusing...) it started to pick up, fast! And it was a great easy feel-good read, that I really enjoyed. I say, it’s perfect for the girly-girl type who want a rainy day read, as I read it on a rainy day.
The book follows none other than Gourmet Girl, Chloe Carter and her boyfriend, Josh Driscoll. Josh is preparing to open his soon-to-be hot restaurant, Simmer, and at fund-raiser that samples some of Josh’s tasty dishes, a trendy club owner Oliver, gets murdered. Weapon of choice? Josh’s state-of-the-art, professional-grade food processor named Robocoupe (Yes, it has a name!).
Everyone's a suspect, but only one person did the crime. Can Chloe use her brains to figure out who did it?
Read the book today to find out!
Overall, like I said the book was a good, feel-good read. And I enjoyed it.
JANE || Simmer Down by Jessica Conant-Park & Susan Conant
// 12:04 AM
Gourmet Girl Chloe Carter’s boyfriend, Josh Driscoll, is prepping for the grand opening of Simmer, soon-to-be Boston’s hottest new restaurant. But at a fund-raiser featuring samples of Josh’s cuisine, a trendy club owner is found bludgeoned to death-by Josh’s state-of-the-art, professional-grade food processor. By opening night at Simmer, the list of suspects is almost longer than the line to get in and Chloe is struggling to solve the crime before someone else gets hurt.
To start things off, I have to admit that I am not a fan of chick lit books. With that being said, I am proud to say that this book did not make me want to gag and toss it aside at first read (as I tend to do). Mother-daughter duo Conant and Conant-Park create humorous characters that make for an entertaining read. They do so while also spicing up the book with a little mystery and even a few recipes thrown in along the way.
Although the book was fun to read, I found that the way Chloe, the narrator, goes about solving the mystery was a little confusing and frustrating. Couldn’t she have taken a more logical approach and not let silly fantasies blur her vision of what really happened? Although that may in fact have been the authors’ intention, I think that having a more rational character working through the gears of the mystery would have made for a more interesting read and offered a better perspective into the case.
From what I can tell, chick lit, mystery, and cooking enthusiasts will adore this book. I do feel though, that this book had so much more potential, but overall, a good read.
JORY || Almost Home by Jessica Blank
// 12:00 AM"Why would anyone choose to live on the streets? There is Eeyore, just twelve years old when she runs away from her privileged home, harboring a secret she’s too ashamed to tell anyone. Rusty is a sensitive gay teen who winds up alone when his older boyfriend ditches him in Hollywood. Squid has gone through too many foster homes to count. There’s Scabius, a delusional punk from Utah who takes the "me against the world" motto to dangerous extremes. And Critter is a heroin dealer with movie star looks and a vulnerable heart. Laura should be home studying, but she can’t face another one of her mom’s boyfriends. And then there’s Tracy, the damaged thread that ties them all together, irrevocably changing each person’s life she touches. This unlikely band of characters form their own dysfunctional family, complete with love and belonging, abuse and betrayal. Each will make their way home, wherever it may be." -
The book description.
A lot of times after I finish reading a good book, a book I adore, it gets stuck in my head. The whole deal, and it gets me thinking. Thinking what it would be like to be a character in that book. Thinking "what happens next?" as soon as I finish the book. Almost Home by Jessica Blank, is one of those books that will stick with me forever.
I could easily see myself as Eeyore, Tracy and Laura. Even the guys. That’s how real the characters are.
The characters--the stories they tell- are fiction. But, they could easily be any teenager on the streets. Anybody.
Nobody knows what happens in your home life, why you chose to be the way you are. You can’t pass one person and say things like "oh her father raped her" or "oh his father beats him." These children--teens are no different.
Jessica paints a picture, you can see clearly, throughout the book. Giving each character their own voice. She brought them to live beautifully and you can see she clearly thought this book out. I would recommend this to any teenager, it will open their eyes.
JANE || Almost Home by Jessica Blank
Monday, April 14, 2008 // 11:56 PM
All that glitters is not gold in Hollywood. For seven teens, the street is their home. There's Eeyore, just twelve-years-old when she runs away from home, harboring a secret she's too ashamed to tell anyone; Rusty, who winds up alone and broke when his older boyfriend ditches him in Hollywood; and Squid, who has survived a meth-addict mom and too many foster homes to count and now determined to create his own "sidewalk family" out on the streets. Then there's Scabius, a rough, delusional punk from Utah; Critter, a heroin dealer with movie-star looks and a vulnerable heart; and Laura, a smart and restless girl who's run to L.A. in search of something bigger than the tiny town she comes from. And then there's Tracy -- the charismatic, damaged thread that ties them all together and irrevocably changes each of their lives.
The casting of characters that Blank created for the story was strong and authentic, but even though the characters may be fictional, their situation wasn't. She offers a glimpse into each character's life -- weaving each of their own struggles and stories together with the central character, Tracy. However, she is careful not to let the story revolve or end with her.
Words cannot even begin to describe how much this book has made me think and opened my eyes. The circumstances are real and so is the danger. Homelessness is not as disbanded as we think. There are still teens out there calling the streets their home, living off of our garbage, and doing just about anything to survive. Blank is allowing us to see this through her story and narrates with a blunt, honest, unwavering tone.
Overall, an absolute must-read and a good choice for reluctant readers. I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to end and I'm sure you will too.
JANE || Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
// 11:51 PM
In medieval Cambridge, England, Christian children are being brutally murdered and the Christians are blaming their Jewish neighbors. So, to save them from the rioting mob, the Cambridge Jews are placed under the protection of King Henry II. Henry II is no friend of the Jews, but he does believe in law and order and desperately needs the tax revenue he receives from the Jews. In hopes that a scientific approach to the matter will result in the capture of the true killer, Henry turns to his cousin, the King of Sicily -- whose subjects include the finest medical experts in Europe -- for help. He asks for his finest "master of the art of death": the earliest form of medical examiners. The doctor chosen for the task is a young prodigy from the University of Salerno and an expert in the science of anatomy and the art of detection. But Henry is shocked when he meets the prodigy: Dr. Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar; not a master of the art of death, but, a mistress
of the art of death.
When I first learned the story line, I was immediately intrigued by the idea of a medieval forensics scientist -- and a female one at that! Protagonist Adelia proves herself as the right woman for the job as she takes the reader along an unforgettable journey, expertly deducing suspects and bravely throwing herself into dangerous situations for the sake of the children. She knows that she cannot let another murder happen.
The book is saturated with mystery, science, suspense, horror, and has even a touch of romance. Once I started reading this book, I could not put it down. And even when I wasn't reading it, I found myself anxious for the next time I could. I was enthralled with the characters and the adventure.
History buffs may find themselves nit-picking at some anachronisms (cholera in 12th century Europe anyone?), but Franklin does have an Author's note at the end addressing any changes she has made, such as the usage of modern terms and names. The romance also seemed like an afterthought Franklin added in to open her book to a broader audience.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Science and mystery novels are usually not my niche, but I found that the book was written in such a way that both the plot and science was simple enough to understand and didn't end up retracting from the overall mood of the book.