#TopTenTuesday: Top Ten Foodie Passages

Genres: Middle Grade

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared a blog post but what a better opportunity than a Tuesday when the theme is Food in Books! As you may know, I adore all things culinary, and as a child, I even dreamed of being a culinary queen one day. No, I don’t have my own restaurant or bakery yet, but I cook and bake as often as I can, and my dreams of one day opening a coffee shop and bakery/bookstore combo continue to be stirred…

But first, here are some titles whose passages featuring food are deliciously enjoyable!

This weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and Bookish—check out their blog and join in any week you like.

Here’s what they have to say about Top Ten Tuesday: “Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly link-up in the community where we provide a prompt and other lovers of listmaking join in on it with their own top ten list. Feel free to have less than 10 or more if you need to at times and put a spin on the topic if you need to! Just please link back to us if you are participating :)”

ALL FOUR STARS

And there was the moment when the desserts began to arrive, carried by a procession of servers in black and yellow. Creamy-looking custards were followed by beautifully decorated slices of cake. Crisp-shelled pastries were set down next to gooey-centered pies. Dainty little goblets featuring ice cream and sorbet came out on a silver tray, and a pungent aroma rose off a long wooden board that was dotted with more kinds of cheese than Gladys had ever seen, even in Mr. Eng’s special fridge.

A TANGLE OF KNOTS

“Your perfect cake,” she said by way of an explanation.

“Usually I can tell as soon as I meet someone. Like, Amy’s mom there is a pineapple upside down cake, and her dad is a sour cream coffee cake with a crumbly blueberry center.”

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES

“Everything is ready, Diana, except my cake which I’m to make in the morning, and the baking-powder biscuits which Marilla will make just before teatime. I assure you, Diana, that Marilla and I have had a busy two days of it. It’s such a responsibility having a minister’s family to tea. I never went through such an experience before. You should just see our pantry. It’s a sight to behold. We’re going to have jellied chicken and cold tongue. We’re to have two kinds of jelly, red and yellow, and whipped cream and lemon pie, and cherry pie, and three kinds of cookies, and fruit cake, and Marilla’s famous yellow plum preserves that she keeps especially for ministers, and pound cake and layer cake, and biscuits as aforesaid; and new bread and old both, in case the minister is dyspeptic and can’t eat new.”

THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS

“What’s inside it?” asked the Mole, wriggling with curiosity. “There’s cold chicken inside it,” replied the Rat briefly; ‘coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrollscresssandwichespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater—”

THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE

You can think how good the new-caught fish smelled while they were frying and how the hungry children longed for them to be done and how very much hungrier still they had become before Mr Beaver said, “Now we’re nearly ready.” Susan drained the potatoes and then put them all back in the empty pot to dry on the side of the range while Lucy was helping Mrs Beaver to dish up the trout, so that in a very few minutes everyone was drawing up their stools (it was all three-legged stools in the Beavers’ house except for Mrs Beaver’s own special rocking chair beside the fire) and preparing to enjoy themselves. There was a jug of creamy milk for the children (Mr Beaver stuck to beer) and a great big lump of deep yellow butter in the middle of the table from which everyone took as much as he wanted to go with his potatoes, and all the children thought – and I agree with them – that there’s nothing to beat good freshwater fish if you eat it when it has been alive half an hour ago and has come out of the pan half a minute ago. And when they had finished the fish Mrs Beaver brought unexpectedly out of the oven a great and gloriously sticky marmalade roll, steaming hot, and at the same time moved the kettle on to the fire, so that when they had finished the marmalade roll the tea was made and ready to be poured out. And when each person had got his (or her) cup of tea, each person shoved back his (or her) stool so as to be able to lean against the wall and gave a long sigh of contentment.

FARMER BOY

There was oatmeal with plenty of thick cream and maple sugar. There were fried potatoes, and the golden buckwheat cakes, as many as Almanzo wanted to eat, with sausages and gravy or with butter and maple syrup. There were preserves and jams and jellies and doughnuts. But best of all Almanzo liked the spicy apple pie, with its thick, rich juice and its crumbly crust. He ate two big wedges of the pie.

FARMER BOY (X2)

The big blue platter on the stove’s hearth was full of plump sausage cakes; Eliza Jane was cutting apple pies and Alice was dishing up the oatmeal, as usual. But the little blue platter stood hot on the back of the stove, and ten stacks of pancakes rose in tall towers on it. Ten pancakes cooked on the smoking griddle, and as fast as they were done Mother added another cake to each stack and buttered it lavishly and covered it with maple sugar. Butter and sugar melted together and soaked the fluffy pancakes and dripped all down their crisp edges. That was stacked pancakes. Almanzo liked them better than any other kind of pancakes.

BREAD AND JAM FOR FRANCES

“I have a thermos bottle with cream of tomato soup,” she said. “And a lobster-salad sandwich on thin slices of white bread. I have celery, carrot sticks, and black olives, and a little cardboard shaker of salt for the celery. And two plums and a tiny basket of cherries. And vanilla pudding with chocolate sprinkles and a spoon to eat it with.’

That’s a good lunch,” said Albert.

PADDINGTON

“A wise bear always keeps a marmalade sandwich in his hat in case of emergency.”

A SNICKER OF MAGIC

I saw an old couple with matching sun visors. They were eating ice-cream cones full of rainbow-colored scoops. I watched a girl with red hair hold a novel in one hand and a waffle cone in the other. She was mumbling the words of her story, so happy to be reading that she didn’t notice the pink dollop of ice cream on her chin.

I don’t know about you, but these passages are making me hungry! There are probably many other children’s books featuring delightful food-filled passages, but these are the ten I chose for today. What foodie books did you choose? Children’s? Young Adult? Adult? Cookbooks? I would love to read your posts so do share your links here!

What Katie Read

A Reading Nook to Wish For….

Who doesn’t want an amazing READING NOOK?!? If you’re a reader, you’ve surely imagined your ideal nook for your favorite activity: reading.

Perhaps you’ve created a Pinterest board, like me, with ideas of what that reading nook might look like. Perhaps you’ve scoured furniture and antique shops, keeping in mind all the while how a certain piece might or might not fit into that dream nook taking shape in your mind. It’s true, the possibilities are endless, but there are times when we have to start making decisions about which pieces to choose for our nook.

Peter Hess

There are several kinds of reading nooks I would absolutely love, but in this post, I’m sharing with you a handful of pieces from the gorgeous furniture supplier, Arhaus, that would work flawlessly for my nook!

The first essential piece for my reading nook is an excellent chaise, and I found an example of one here:

 

Of course I’ll need a bookshelf or two near my reading nook so I can have easy access to my titles.

This Telegraph Wide Bookcase in White from Arhaus is lovely–I haven’t completely decided exactly where it would be positioned in relation to my chaise, but it’s not going to be far.

Some reading nooks might not even need a chaise because the “ledge” of the window seat provides the seating. You can find some examples here.

As we readers know LIGHTING is so important for the perfect reading nook. I adore this Pendant Lighting choice:

I have to say, though, that I am also drawn to this Sconce in Antique Rust. It would add a fantastic dimension to my nook. There are a whole host of lighting possibilities you can find on the Arhaus website. If you are seeking out lighting possibilities for your own reading nook, I suggest you look here.

After taking a look at some of the Vintage Furniture on the Arhaus site, I realized that I wouldn’t mind this coffee table to be positioned not far from me. I love a good coffee table and one is essential for book displays!

Lovely, isn’t it? You’ll find even more table options for your nook on the Arhaus website. There are plenty of options to choose from to make sure you have the perfect piece on which to display some of your books in your nook!

I can’t end this post without at least one more comfy chair I would absolutely adore for my nook. Check out this Leather Tufted Chair in Bronco Whiskey. It looks so cozy I could just sink into it this very moment!

If you’d like to see even more ideas, you can check out my pinterest board here.

What about you? What pieces would make up your ideal reading nook and where would you begin searching? Online? Antique shops? A new furniture shop? A used furniture shop? Or do you already have pieces in your home that would create the ideal nook? Do tell!

What Katie Read

The Unquenchable Faith that Saved Thousands of Children: Irena’s Children

The Unquenchable Faith that Saved Thousands of Children: Irena’s ChildrenIrena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto by Tilar J. Mazzeo
on September 26, 2017
Genres: Adult, Nonfiction
Pages: 317
Goodreads

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Widow Clicquot comes an extraordinary and gripping account of Irena Sendler—the “female Oskar Schindler”—who took staggering risks to save 2,500 children from death and deportation in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II. In 1942, one young social worker, Irena Sendler, was granted access to the Warsaw ghetto as a public health specialist. While there, she reached out to the trapped Jewish families, going from door to door and asking the parents to trust her with their young children. She started smuggling them out of the walled district, convincing her friends and neighbors to hide them. Driven to extreme measures and with the help of a network of local tradesmen, ghetto residents, and her star-crossed lover in the Jewish resistance, Irena ultimately smuggled thousands of children past the Nazis. She made dangerous trips through the city’s sewers, hid children in coffins, snuck them under overcoats at checkpoints, and slipped them through secret passages in abandoned buildings. But Irena did something even more astonishing at immense personal risk: she kept secret lists buried in bottles under an old apple tree in a friend’s back garden. On them were the names and true identities of those Jewish children, recorded with the hope that their relatives could find them after the war. She could not have known that more than ninety percent of their families would perish. In Irena’s Children, Tilar Mazzeo tells the incredible story of this courageous and brave woman who risked her life to save innocent children from the Holocaust—a truly heroic tale of survival, resilience, and redemption.

“Heroes,” she said, “do extraordinary things. What I did was not an extraordinary thing. It was normal.” (262-263)

I arrived in Orlando at ALA Annual last year, with a nonfiction book on my list to pick up, Irena’s Children. I secured an ARC, and recently finished the book during a flight from Boston to Atlanta for ALA Midwinter. I can tell you that this book is fantastic!

The story of Irena and her group of courageous individuals working to save the lives of children during an incredibly dark time in world history was intense, inspiring, beautiful, heartrending, and miraculous!

I don’t often post reviews of nonfiction titles, but this is one book I would recommend that EVERYONE read. Sometimes the truth is as wondrous and as strange as fiction. In the case of Tilar J. Mazzeo’s text, that notion is incredibly true.

The book is set up in chronological order, and charts Irena’s journey as a young woman first becoming concerned with the plight of Jewish children in Nazi-occupied Poland, and eventually moving to become a major player in the Polish resistance. Many different characters are introduced as they relate to the vast and courageous network of individuals who worked with Irena to smuggle children out of the Warsaw ghetto. This collaboration had Irena at its head, but around twenty to twenty-five other individuals played important roles. Mazzeo points out as well, that the actual number of people who took part to help save these children are actually “dozens upon dozens.”

The pacing of the story is perfect–including details and scenes of what took place as Irena and her network worked through truly terrifying and high pressure situations in order to thwart the Nazis and rescue Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto. Mazzeo provides plenty of relevant and interesting information about Irena, born in 1910, and continues to strengthen the narrative by also describing the people with whom Irena connected earlier in her life, that would later play a role in her work to save children.

Can you imagine facing the pressure of separating hundreds of children from their parents, and somehow keeping a secret record of where those children were hidden and their real names so that they could be later connected with their parents after the war?!? I can only begin to imagine what a monumental and perhaps stressful task this must have been. Sadly, the vast majority of parents ended up perishing by the end of the war. The book does refer to the emotional pain that Irena experienced at forcing, out of necessity, a child to leave his/her mother and father. How could you explain to a two year old that he/she has no choice but to leave a beloved parent? It’s almost unthinkable.

Irena is basically considered the female “Oskar Schindler” but, as this book attests, her identity as a resilient and brave woman who achieved the extraordinary can stand on its own. Irena isn’t the only “hero” in this book, however. Mazzeo portrays many other figures who assisted Irena in her courageous attempt to save children from a terrible fate.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This book was both gripping and difficult to read. It depicted a timeline of events I sometimes didn’t want to think about, and yet, it was a timeline of events I had an obligation to read about. And to encourage others to read about. What Irena and her network accomplished should be honored and remembered. The children who perished during the Holocaust should be remembered. The children who endured the most difficult of circumstances during this period in history should be remembered. For all these reasons and more, read Irena’s Children.

For here is an important book. A necessary book. A book you must read, even if it is the only book you read all year.

What Katie Read

Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR

Spring 2017 will see a handful of anticipated books published, and so today I share with you some of the titles that are on the top of my TBR. I picked up a handful of them at ALA Midwinter, so that means I can jump into many of these right away. But…I also share a few backlist titles that I’m adding to the stack.

It’s as it has always been: So many books and so little time!

This weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and Bookish—check out their blog and join in any week you like.

Here’s what they have to say about Top Ten Tuesday: “Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly link-up in the community where we provide a prompt and other lovers of listmaking join in on it with their own top ten list. Feel free to have less than 10 or more if you need to at times and put a spin on the topic if you need to! Just please link back to us if you are participating :).”

STRANGE THE DREAMER

I was lucky enough to snag an ARC of this at ALA Midwinter and I’ve already started reading it. Suffice it to say that however high your hopes are about this one, you can elevate them higher.

A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN

I’ve been holding off reading A Court of Mist and Fury but you can bet I’ll have read it by the time this title is released. I’m anxious to know how Feyre’s journey is going to unfold.

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

We know this won the National Book Award, and everything I have heard about this book convinces me it will be a heartrending and emotional read, but it will be worth it.

THE WOMEN IN THE CASTLE

I’m really looking forward to another historical novel set just after World War II. I can’t get enough fiction set in this time period, especially if it is well-researched. The Goodreads description says this fits readers of The Nightingale, Sarah’s Key, and The Light Between Oceans. I loved all of those books!!

HOUR OF THE BEES

Another title I’ve wanted to read for awhile about “family, renewal, and discovering the wonder of the world.”

BEYOND THE BRIGHT SEA

I read an ARC of this and I give it all the stars. I can’t wait to hold a finished copy in my hands and I will work to convince every reader to pick this one up!

THE SHADOW CIPHER (YORK #1)

I read and loved Laura Ruby’s BONE GAP so if she’s written a Middle Grade novel, you bet I’m going to be excited about it.

THE PEARL THIEF

A prequel for CODE NAME VERITY! I have no words.

FLAMECASTER

I know Shadowcaster is due out this spring, but I still need to read Flamecaster, and that is quickly becoming a priority.

SONG OF THE CURRENT

This sounds thrilling and look at that luminous cover. I see that the early reviews are positive so I’m planning on reading this one ASAP.

This is an amazing list, I know! I’m curious to know if any of these titles are on your lists or if there are any books you think I absolutely must add to my Spring TBR. Do tell! Happy Reading!

What Katie Read

Picturebook Trio: A Night Gardener, a Gryphon, and a Whisper

Genres: Picturebooks

There are picturebooks…and then there are Picturebooks. I bring Three special titles to you today.

THE NIGHT GARDENER

This picturebook might be my favorite picturebook of 2016. THE NIGHT GARDENER is absolutely gorgeous in its design, word/image interaction, and limited but rich textual narrative. It is a gift waiting for the reader to open, and I would not be surprised to hear that others have had profound experiences with this story.

First, I noticed that the way the book opened was unique. Whereas in other stories there might be a buildup to a grand event, this narrative stepped into its beginning rather quickly—in fact, on the second page. At the same time, the build up begins with the extra-textual materials of the book, which I loved. The copyright page itself features an important double page spread.

In other words, the book designers don’t waste any space in advancing and illuminating the meaning of the narrative.

And there are multiple meanings one might take away from this gem of a book by the Fan Brothers.

For example, the Night Gardener is bringing a kind of reformation and revival of beauty to the small town in the book. But two characters are affected in the story—our protagonist, William, and then the town as a whole. First, William is awed by the work of the Night Gardener and eventually pursues and finds him, deciding to help him in his work. Then, William plays a role in continuing the important work of the Night Gardener within the town. The magic and beauty and wonder that the Night Gardener brings through his “transformations” and “works of art” begin to change everyone—in a lasting way. There is a lot more to say about this simple and yet profound story, but I’ll stop there.

IF I HAD A GRYPHON

This book is actually written by a friend of mine, Vikki Vansickle, whom I met in Toronto when she was a bookseller! What we both shared in common is that we had both completed an MA in Children’s Literature and we always had wonderful bookish chats when we met. I’m absolutely thrilled to say that If I Had a Gryphon is lovely, charming, and whimsically wonderful!

The rhyme and rhythm of the narrative pairs perfectly with the pictures, and there is much to see in these illustrations! Whimsical, bright, and vivid—these illustrations pop off the page and pull you into the dreamlife of our protagonist. The fact that the story is told in verse adds another enjoyable aspect to the book.

Read the words out loud and you’ll be captivated by their rhythm, humor, and ability to bring these mythical creatures to life on the page. Poetry for young people can sometimes be daunting and hard to understand, but the rhymes of this book remove any stress related to poetry and provide a fantastic experience with verse. Sometimes a poetry book might have stellar illustrations but mediocre text, or wonderful text, but pictures that are not as strong as they might be. If I Had a Gryphon receives gold stars on both fronts!

THE WHISPER

The Whisper is a new addition to my school library and it is gorgeous! Whimsical, imaginative, and full of wonder, this gem of a picturebook tells a story that invites endless interpretations and curiosity. Its cover boasts a girl in a red hood, holding an open book with a crown on its cover, a crown floating above the girl’s head and also a fox at her side. A bunch of grapes hover over the fox’s head, slipping in an intertextual reference to Aesop’s fables (a preview of something that will happen later in the story).

Everything about the book promises a luxurious experience—pictures filled with detail that will keep you reading for a long while, and if you are looking for an opportunity to create your own stories, you will look no further. The endpapers alone kick off the story and provide a puzzle for the reader to unlock. My favorite part in the story is the double page spread at the beginning when the girl is rushing home with the special book on loan to her from her teacher. The fox balances on a wheel as he “scoops” up the words of the story in his net.

Each picture in the book invites its own narrative…or all the stories connected? No matter—your imagination is the key to unlock it all, and it becomes a marvelous experience the more you read.

Why is it called The Whisper? Well, you’ll just have to find out.

Have you read any of these picturebooks from 2016? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please tell me what you thought of these beautiful titles!

What Katie Read

If We Were Having Coffee (Valentine’s Day Edition)

Hello, Friends! It’s been awhile, but I’m incredibly happy to share a new blog post with you today. And I hope you’re excited because….we’re going out for coffee.

**The “If We Were Having Coffee” feature came from Jamie at Perpetual Page Turner, who actually discovered it on another blog.

If we were having coffee, I would hope you had chosen a coffee beverage you really enjoy and that you would have ordered it in a cup “for here.” I would also hope you had a slice of cake to go along with your coffee.

I would ask you if you were enjoying the snow. I would mention that I don’t mind the cold so much, because growing up in Northern California meant that our winters didn’t always bring snow. I like the four seasons, and I appreciate the wardrobe change. I’d ask you how you were coping with the colder weather and what you thought of the notion of these bits of fluffy cotton falling from the sky…

If we were having coffee, I would ask you if you had an upcoming winter break, like I do. I would mention that I’m visiting Italy with friends for the week, and that it’s my fourth trip to that beautiful country. Though I have been to Florence before, it was only for a few days. I’m pleased to be returning for longer. Florence is that magical kind of place you imagine you could visit periodically for the rest of your life. The last time I was there I tried to imagine what it was like for Lucy Honeychurch to encounter George Emerson in Room with a View. I plan to re-read E.M. Forster’s classic while in Florence. I’d ask you if you’d been to Italy or other European destinations. I’d wonder if there were places you return to again and again. 

I would mention that it is only recently I could even get excited about going to Italy. My job in the School Library has been so busy this year–so many classes to teach and an entire library to manage! You would think that being surrounded by so many books would mean you could get loads and loads of reading done, but it’s not exactly like that. It has been challenging at times to keep up with my reading and, as you know, to update this blog. I want that to change! You wouldn’t believe the amazing books I’ve been reading over the past few months. I think you’ll also be excited about all the wonderful titles I picked up from ALA Midwinter in Atlanta in January.

To be honest, I don’t even like saying I’m “busy.”  I want people to think they could ask me to sit down for a coffee at any time. Or even that they could drop by and I would have a pie made from scratch to offer.

That doesn’t seem the norm—this is a busy culture and sometimes it seems you have to plan a coffee meeting weeks and weeks out. How I miss the days of hearing a knock on the door and seeing a friend! I would ask you what you thought of spontaneous coffee outings, and if you had any strategies for navigating our busy culture.

So, if we were having coffee, I would tell you how happy I am you took the time to sit down and talk. I would appreciate being able to tell you what’s happening with me, and I would be thankful to hear what’s going on with you. I would ask you if you needed a refill of your coffee.

I would tell you that recently I’ve been wondering why I chose to live so far away from my family. For some reason, it has felt more difficult, and it seems as if those 3,000 miles might as well be 30,000. I would reflect that you can’t really get the California out of me. There’s a bit of London there too. I would mention that I’m thinking about Londoners right now, in the swirl of winter, and that I so enjoyed speaking with my dear friends in Oxford (along with their dog, Bramble, barking in the background) on Sunday afternoon. I would ask you if you’ve ever lived in another country or state and what it was like leaving that place.

If we were having coffee, I would ask you what you were reading. I would say that I have so many good books lined up to read, and that I recently read a historical novel called When We Meet Again, by an author I met at ALA this past summer in Orlando. I would ask you if you knew that German prisoners of war had been sent to work on farms in Florida after WWII. I might mention that there were probably many German soldiers in the war that didn’t really support Hitler, but were caught up in a horrendous world event that would send them far, far away from where they were born. I would ask you if your perspective about people changes when you read historical fiction, and what you think about the power of literature to change people’s hearts and minds. I would ask you if you love history and what historical period you would go to, should you be granted the ability to time travel.

If we were having coffee, we might be figuring out our next coffee meeting. I would mention that it should happen again sooner, rather than later.

As we were finishing our coffee, I would mention that I really miss blogging. I remember when I blogged almost every day, when I was working from home. I miss those days of sharing my thoughts about every book I read and participating in the Top Ten Tuesday every week. I would share the ideas I have for blogging in 2017, and you would know I’m really excited about it. I would mention that instead of just writing book review posts, I hope to share my thoughts about some other subjects….such as a research project I’m planning with a favorite video game. I would ask you what you think of stories in different mediums, and whether you were currently playing any intriguing games.

So, go ahead….tell me! Grab your coffee and take a break from receiving all those roses and chocolates (or giving them) and let’s catch up. I’m excited for the weeks ahead on the blog, and I can’t wait to hear what you’ve been up to and reading!

What Katie Read

Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon: Mid Event Survey

dewey

Well, Hello There!

It’s Hour 12 of Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon, and though I won’t be able to stay up for all 24 hours, I at least am making the most of what I can stay up for, and decided to share with you my Mid Event Survey. The day has been fantastic so far and I’m looking forward to more books, tea, and chocolate for the remainder of the evening!

101-dalmations-books

  1. What are you reading right now?

I’m nearly finished with Empire of Storms, and I’m about to start a mystery, Buried in a Book.

  1. How many books have you read so far?

I’ve read FOUR books so far! The Poet’s Dog, Mighty Jack, Moo, and Heartsong

  1. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

I’m looking forward to finishing Empire of Storms, though it will be kind of painful since I have to wait so long for the next installment. But I sense some things are going to happen that are going to be shocking and surprising. I’m also really looking forward to this mystery I picked up at the library–it’s the perfect evening for a read-a-thon–the wind is blowing and the scent of homemade applesauce is filling the house!

37201-Carlton-dancing-gif-I2pZ

  1. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

I’ve had other tasks I needed to accomplish, but during my reading, I haven’t had any interruptions, so it’s been relatively smooth.

  1. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

What surprises me is that I don’t do this more often because I enjoy it so much, and it often helps me to unwind and just give myself time to relax and have no other agenda but drink coffee, tea, and read….

readathon5

side eye dalmations

What Katie Read

STAR SO SWEET Blog Tour & Giveaway: A Delicious Finale!

STAR SO SWEET Blog Tour & Giveaway: A Delicious Finale!Stars So Sweet (All Four Stars, #3) by Tara Dairman
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on July 19th 2016
Genres: Middle Grade, Realistic
Pages: 288
Goodreads
five-stars


Joan Bauer meets Ruth Reichl in this charming middle grade foodie series.

As the summer winds down and Gladys Gatsby prepares to start middle school, she is nervous about juggling schoolwork and looming deadlines from her secret job as the New York Standard’s youngest restaurant critic. When her editor pushes for a face-to-face meeting to discuss more opportunities with the paper, Gladys knows she must finally come clean to her parents. But her perfectly planned reveal is put on hold when her parents arrive home with a surprise:  her Aunt Lydia, one of the only adults who knows her secret, fresh off the plane from Paris. Gladys and Aunt Lydia try one last ruse to fool her editor at the Standard, but even with her aunt’s help, Gladys just can’t manage the drama of middle school and a secret life. It’s time for Gladys to be true to herself and honest with her friends and family, regardless of what those around her think.

Gladys Gatsby is back! And this time it’s in the final installment of the ALL FOUR STARS foodie Middle Grade trilogy by Tara Dairman. You know I (and many others) adored the first two books, ALL FOUR STARS and A SUMMER OF STARS. July 19th, 2016 will see the publication of STARS SO SWEET, and let me tell you, you will not disappointed! You can expect more hilarious antics from Gladys and her friends, as well as challenges and adventures that inevitably come her way. Gladys is starting Middle School, and she is also being offered an amazing new opportunity at her top secret job for The New York Standard as a restaurant reviewer. The surprise arrival of a family member also has Gladys working on yet another project, and then you might remember the famous Hamilton from A SUMMER OF STARS. I won’t give too much away, but it’s possible the child literary star also makes an appearance. To sum up, you can expect more mouthwatering treats from Gladys as well as her creative and interesting attempts to navigate various foodie scrapes and challenges.

Now onto some of the highlights of this Middle Grade treat.

What I Loved

-Gladys’s passion for cooking and all things foodie is front and center in the narrative, as it has been in the last two books.

-Her diverse group of friends and their differing personalities and quirks are part of the action as welll—you’ll find appearances by Parm, Charissa, and Sandy. I assure you—you’ll definitely be laughing throughout the book, just as you probably were with the first two.

-The story features different cuisines and ingredients some readers may have never heard of before! Whether Gladys is browsing Mr. Eng’s specialty food shop or creating Salvadoran pancakes, she is sure to introduce readers to something new in the culinary world. At one point Gladys, Aunt Lydia, and Charissa attend a foodie trade show and sample foods such as biltong (South African beef jerky), antelope meats, yak meat, and even horse-meat bites!

-The rich themes of friendship and becoming comfortable in your own identity (something that can be quite challenging in Middle School) are appreciated and embedded in the narrative without being preachy. I love the way Tara illuminates important and relevant aspects of friendship in her storyline.

-The resolution of all the loose ends, especially regarding Gladys’s top secret job of restaurant reviewer for The New York Standard. The conclusion of STARS SO SWEET is stunning, and everything I had hoped for in the ending to this fantastic trilogy. I know this series will continue to be a popular one in my school library. I already have many students who have been waiting avidly for the last installment in the series. It’s true: Young readers love these foodie books!

-I always love the fact that each chapter features its own title. I especially enjoy that Chapter 21 is called “Irrational Doughnuts.”

Some Foodie Connections

-Gladys receives an assignment from her job: Distinguish between Salvadoran, Peruvian, and Cuban food by visiting restaurants with these cuisines. I decided to bring a few links for you to check out, so that you can do your own investigation of these three different cuisines.

10 FOODS FROM EL SALVADOR YOU NEED TO TRY RIGHT NOW: http://www.theflama.com/10-foods-from-el-salvador-you-need-to-try-right-now-1592974846.html

ESSENTIAL PERU: 10 MUST-EAT DISHES TO SEEK OUT: http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/06/essential-peruvian-cuisine.html

9 DISHES TO MAKE YOU FALL FOR CUBAN CUISINE: http://www.saveur.com/article/-/Cuban-Recipes

FINALLY

I can imagine that yet another reason you would want to purchase the book once it’s out in the world on July 19th is that the cover is as gorgeous as its predecessors and that the trilogy presented together on the bookshelf will be absolutely stunning.

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I’m in denial that this is the last installment of Gladys’s adventures, and I’m hoping that one day maybe we’ll get another book….or a novella, even. I just don’t want to say goodbye…

GIVEAWAY TIME!

Would you like to win a complete set of the ALL FOUR STARS books? I’m running a giveaway, courtesy of Penguin, and one winner (USA only) will receive a complete set of the trilogy. To enter, all you have to do is leave a thoughtful comment about why you are excited to read STARS SO SWEET (or any of the other All Four Stars books)!

If you missed my first interview with Tara, you can explore it here. Also, if you aren’t familiar with All Four Stars, you can read about that here. My thoughts on the second book, The Stars of Summer, can be found here.

REVIEWS OF TARA’S BOOKS

ALL FOUR STARS (Putnam/Penguin, 2014)

*An Amazon Best Book of the Month*

 

THE STARS OF SUMMER (Putnam/Penguin, 2015)

“Hilarious.” – School Library Journal

 

STARS SO SWEET (Putnam/Penguin, coming 7.19.16)

“A tasty dish that series fans should eat up.” -Kirkus

Tara Dairman’s Bio

Tara Dairman is the author of the middle-grade foodie novel ALL FOUR STARS (Putnam/Penguin) which was named an Amazon Best Book of the Month and won a 2015 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award. THE STARS OF SUMMER followed in 2015, and STARS SO SWEET (6/19/16) completes the series. Tara grew up in New York and holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College. After surviving the world’s longest honeymoon (two years, seventy-four countries!), she now lives in Colorado with her family.

Tara Dairman headshot

Links to Find Tara

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Are you excited about STARS SO SWEET? What are some of your favorite memories of Gladys from the first two books?

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What Katie Read

#TopTenTuesday: Favorite 2016 Releases So Far This Year

You might have noticed that 2016 has already seen a huge number of excellent, intriguing, and unique books published, especially in the Middle Grade and YA genres. This week the goal is to share our Top Ten Favorite 2016 releases, and I can say this is definitely a fantastic way to start off the summer on the blog. Now that school is out, I anticipate finally being able to spend some substantial time on blog. Thank goodness!

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This weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and Bookish—check out their blog and join in any week you like.

Here’s what they have to say about Top Ten Tuesday: “Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly link-up in the community where we provide a prompt and other lovers of listmaking join in on it with their own top ten list. Feel free to have less than 10 or more if you need to at times and put a spin on the topic if you need to! Just please link back to us if you are participating :).”

PICTUREBOOKS:

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THE NIGHT GARDENER

Stay tuned for my mini picturebook review of this one and another fantastic 2016 release. If you haven’t read or purchased THE NIGHT GARDENER, then I would highly recommend you do just that. If there is only one picturebook you purchase this year, make it this one. This is definitely a Caldecott contender!

MIDDLE GRADE:

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RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE

You can hear more of my thoughts about this new book of Kate’s here. This is one of my choices for the Newbery!

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WOLF HOLLOW

This is another one of my top Middle Grade reads for 2016. I describe this as a young reader’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, but it’s this and so much more. This is another contender for the Newbery. Themes of social justice, friendship, and sacrifice are threaded throughout this beautiful narrative.

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ALL RISE FOR THE HONORABLE PERRY T. COOK

Perry T. Cook is an unforgettable protagonist!

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THE KEY TO EXTRAORDINARY

You probably already know how I feel about Natalie Lloyd and her books.

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PAX

PAX is another unforgettable animal Middle Grade that I was thinking about for many days after I finished the last page.

YOUNG ADULT:

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THE READER

This one isn’t out until September, so my review will have to wait a bit, but I can safely say this is an amazing and fast-paced start to a series that I will be eagerly following!

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SALT TO THE SEA

I actually read this book last summer, after I picked up an ARC at ALA Annual in San Francisco, but it didn’t release until February 2016. If I have to pick one top book for the entire year, this one would probably be it. It’s that good. And it’s an important story.

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THE MIRROR KING

This is the second and final installment in Jodi Meadows’ Orphan Queen duology, and it was wonderful!

ADULT:

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BLACK RABBIT HALL

You know I’m a big fan of books by Kate Morton, so when I heard that this was a Kate Morton-esque story, set in England, and that, like Kate Morton’s books, it shifted between time periods, I was set. BLACK RABBIT HALL is an intriguing historical mystery. If you enjoy books by Kate Morton, then by all means, make sure you grab this one.

And there are still so many more 2016 releases to look forward to! Are any of these on your list? Which 2016 titles do you think I must absolutely read next?

What Katie Read

A Middle Grade Marvel: ALL RISE FOR THE HONORABLE PERRY T. COOK

A Middle Grade Marvel: ALL RISE FOR THE HONORABLE PERRY T. COOKAll Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on March 1st 2016
Genres: Middle Grade, Realistic
Pages: 400
Goodreads
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From Leslie Connor, award-winning author of Waiting for Normal and Crunch, comes a soaring and heartfelt story about love, forgiveness, and how innocence makes us all rise up. All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook is a powerful story, perfect for fans of Wonder and When You Reach Me.
Eleven-year-old Perry was born and raised by his mom at the Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility in tiny Surprise, Nebraska. His mom is a resident on Cell Block C, and so far Warden Daugherty has made it possible for them to be together. That is, until a new district attorney discovers the truth—and Perry is removed from the facility and forced into a foster home.
When Perry moves to the “outside” world, he feels trapped. Desperate to be reunited with his mom, Perry goes on a quest for answers about her past crime. As he gets closer to the truth, he will discover that love makes people resilient no matter where they come from . . . but can he find a way to tell everyone what home truly means?

Don’t let this book escape your grasp!

http://bestanimations.com/Books/Books.html
http://bestanimations.com/Books/Books.html

What I Loved

I loved PERRY T. COOK! What a wonderful, kind, compassionate, and creative eleven year old. I had no idea just how much I would adore this book and Perry’s journey. When the book opens, Perry has spent the first eleven years of his life in the Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility where his mother is serving a sentence (for something that Perry knows a little bit about, but not all the details have been revealed to him). At both the correctional facility and out in the wider world where he attends school, Perry brightens the lives of those around him. Perry approaches people by believing there is good within him, primarily because of the kindness with which he has been raised in the prison. Over those eleven years, Perry has become close friends with many of the inmates, and learned a lot about their stories. He recognizes that there are good choices and bad ones to be made, but it seems that Perry is able to distinguish between the idea that people can do bad things and that people are always one way or another. Perry is a strong character, and he gracefully navigates difficulty throughout the story.

Illuminations of Spirituality

There is a definite social justice aspect to this book in that the protagonist (and those close to him) want to see justice for those who have been treated unjustly (particularly within the prison system). Though there may not be concrete actions that Perry can take for all those within Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility, telling their stories is one way he gives a voice to their lives.

The way that Perry sees other people, especially those whom he knows within the prison, brings up another aspect of the spiritual life. When we look at people, do we only see their actions? Do we only see their bad choices? Or can we take the time to look beyond, to the authentic person inside, to the person he/she is becoming? This is an aspect of spirituality that the narrative brought up to me, because, like Perry, we, the reader, also get to know the inmates of Blue River. And I think I can safely say that we also come to care about them.

Who Should Read This Book

Readers in 3rd grade and up would appreciate this fun and thought-provoking title, and anyone who loves Middle Grade with a social justice aspect would do well to pick it up. After reading Perry’s story, I’m planning to look up other books by Leslie Connor, and my hopes are high for future books.

You readers know: When you read a good novel that makes you look at people differently and perhaps with a little more empathy, you can safely say that such a story is doing something wonderful. This is an important story in that it just may change your thinking about people in correctional facilities.

These people have stories worth telling. May Perry T. Cook teach us all a little something!

**Thank you, Katherine Tegen Books, for allowing me to read and review an ARC of this title.**

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What Katie Read