Book Review: Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals by Dinah Fried

Fictitious Dishes:  An Album of Literatures Most Memorable Meals

I recently picked up Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals by Dinah Fried with the expectation that I’d soon be trying out some new recipes.

I was mistaken.

So my initial reaction to this book was one of disappointment.

But I was still intrigued, as I usually am with anything related to either novels or food {and this had both!} so I sat down and began to read it from the beginning.

I found the author’s description of her process to be quite entertaining, and I think I would have enjoyed hearing more about her story.  After all, she chose some books with which I was completely unfamiliar and some times she chose foods that I wasn’t able to identify or match to the descriptions.  So even though I enjoyed the tidbits of facts on each page, I would have liked a meatier {hehe} explanation.

There were a wide variety of books documented here, from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and The Secret Garden, pictured above, to others like Moby Dick, Lolita, and American Psycho.  I liked finding so many different titles, but there are so many, many more – endless, really – options for inclusion in a book like this, that I kind of found it too short.

I want to make sure that I stress that I really did like this book.  But I also want to stress that it’s a coffee table book, not a cookbook.  Gazing at the creamy chowder and crusty bread in the rustic setting of the author/photographer’s imagining of Moby Dick left me craving a warm soup to combat the dreary, rainy weather I could hear in my memory.

Which also made me realize that the book had accomplished its goals.  The author tells us that she hopes her work will “transport [us] back into fictional worlds,” and for the books we haven’t read, that her photographs are there to “offer a little taste of the stories.”

So not a cookbook.  An art book.  A photography book.  A recipe book, but not recipes of food.  Recipes of the subconscious lingerings that great books leave behind in us.

And once I understood the purpose of the book, I was able to devour it {snicker} with relish {I could do this all day…} and find amusement in the playfulness of the props and the colorful culinary interpretations.

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Book Review: The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani:  a book review by Roaming Rosie

The School for Good and Evil, by Soman Chainani, is a fast-paced fairy tale {somewhat fractured} about two girls searching for their Happily Ever Afters.

But their Happily Ever Afters and their journeys to find themselves are not at all what either girl could ever have imagined.

And it’s fun to read.

It’s a middle-grade novel, written for ages 8 to 12, with the paperback at 544 pages long.

The story begins with two very different girls:  Sophie, a gorgeous wannabe princess who spends her days preening and dreaming of princes, and Agatha, a quiet loner who lives in a graveyard and has a cat named Reaper who leaves beheaded birds in her pockets.

Sophie and Agatha only entered a relationship because Sophie was trying to demonstrate how “Good” and charitable she was by befriending the homely outcast dubbed a witch by the townspeople.  This relationship, however, grew into a real {albeit somewhat unbalanced} friendship before the story even starts.

Their story starts for us as they are kidnapped by the elusive School Master and dropped into the School for Good and Evil.  Unexpectedly, however, Agatha is dropped into the School for Good and Sophie into the School for Evil. Both girls are certain a mistake has been made.

As the book progresses, we see Agatha continually and fiercely trying to protect and help her friend, as Sophie grows more and more selfish and angry.  And even though the characters keep showing us their true natures and showing the audience that maybe, just maybe, they’re in the correct schools after all, the book isn’t that cut and dry.

In between colorful school lessons of witches learning the correct way to cook children and princesses learning how to speak to squirrels, and in between competitions where princes try to discern which magical pumpkin is actually a princess, the children face some very dangerous and quite scary situations.  Which is – actually – very in keeping with the style of fairy tales.

But the point to all of these lessons and competitions and circuses and balls is that we learn that even the baddest of the Bad students have their good points, and even the Good students are perfectly capable of evil.

I rather enjoyed the book, and I was very happy with the way it ended.  Now, when I started reading it, I didn’t even know it was part of a series, but I was relieved to find that out, because when the book ended, I did want to know more of their story, even though it still would have functioned as a stand alone novel.

And it’s all done in a very entertaining way through a story that moves along at a good pace:  fast enough to keep kids and young adults entertained, but not so quickly that things get overwhelming or confused.  The language is intelligent, the imagery is vivid, and the story was creative.  I laughed … I cried … and I totally think everyone who is even remotely and mildly interested in fantasy and fairy tales should read it.  There isn’t anything in there that’s inappropriate for young kids, but I feel that adults will rather enjoy the tongue-in-cheek fairy tale references.  I absolutely plan to read the sequels.

You can see a preview of The School for Good and Evil on Amazon.

Happy Reading!

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Book Review: 50 Easter Things to Make and Do

50 Easter Things to Make and Do

This craft book, 50 Easter Things to Make and Do, is a really great thing to have on hand in springtime.

The title may say “Easter” and it’s certainly focused on Easter-type things, but it’s got a lot of wonderful craft ideas that are generally themed around the season of spring.

And while the crafts themselves are super cute, there are other things about the book that I also absolutely LOVE.

For example, it has the spiral binding, so it lays flat – which is handy when you’re looking from it to your project and back again.

Plus, the projects themselves have step-by-step instructions, which is great for showing children the progression of the craft from start to finish.

It’s also a great size to fit inside an Easter basket – which is how my daughter will be receiving it this year.  And since, like I mentioned, many of the projects are great to do all throughout spring and not just for Easter, we’ll be working on some of these adorable crafts all through the season.

You can get a better look at the book in my video review:

The book is out of print on my Usborne Books & More site, but you can still find used copies on Amazon.

Happy Crafting!

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Easy {No Bake} Book Shaped Cookies

Easy {No Bake} Book Shaped Cookies at RoamingRosie.com

These book-shaped cookies are soooooo cute!

And I’m a total sucker for cute food.

Anyway, I made these for a book party I was throwing.  You know, because cookies that looked like books seemed like an appropriate snack for a party celebrating books.  :)

The best part?

{Have you read my blog?  Do ya know what I’m gonna say next??}

They were easy!

Cute + easy + yummy = AWEsome!

The idea came from Catholic Cuisine when I found a picture of their Bible cookies on Pinterest.  I just made mine a little differently.

Here are the step-by-step pictures:

Easy {No Bake} Book Shaped Cookies at RoamingRosie.com

As you can see from the above picture, I just cut off one end of some Newton cookies and – just like that – the cookies already looked like little novels.

I used the Apple Cinnamon Newtons and Blueberry Newtons, but any flavor will work.

To amplify the effect, I added some icing in a pattern that would make them look a little bit more like fancy hardcover books:  a line down the front to indicate where the spine would start, 4 little lines across the spine in two groups, and a rectangle over the front cover.

And then, for fun, I wrote some words on some of them.  You don’t really need to do that, but I really got into it.

Easy {No Bake} Book Shaped Cookies at RoamingRosie.com

To make the icing, all you really need to do is mix a little water or milk into some confectionery sugar, but I actually used the same recipe that I use for my Soft Sugar Cookies and Mini Soft Iced Gingerbread Cookies.

Then you just let the cookies sit for a couple of minutes to let the icing harden, before storing them in a closed container or displaying them on a tray to serve.

They’ll keep for a few days, so you can make them ahead of time.

Easy {No Bake} Book Shaped Cookies at RoamingRosie.com

And they’re totally perfect to enjoy with a cup of warm tea or coffee and a good {you know} book.

To find out more about the amazing books at our party, visit BooksWithRosie.com!

Enjoy!

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Bored? Not Even Close.

Spring Break Boredom Busters | Activity Books | Roaming Rosie

Am I bored?

Not even close.

In fact, I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had the chance {as you may have noticed} to update my blog in a while.

But this Boredom Buster graphic rolled across my Facebook feed, and when I thought about how Spring Break is coming up, I was also reminded of everything I’ve got going on right now and everything that need to get done.

For example, my girls are having a birthday party soon.  In a week, in fact.  A.  WEEK.

So I’ve been busy putting together goody bags, making mermaid tails, painting sharks, organizing decorations… stuff like that.  {All of which, of course, will soon be featured here.}

And I’ve also started a new job.  Part-time, but hey, that’s still that many more hours out of the house every week.  Plus, I’m still trying to get everything organized to do my taxes.  I’ve been selling books.  And I’ve been writing again, too.  The writing part is awesome, {really, really awesome}, but it tends to be a bit consuming, too.

Thus:  not a ton of blog posts.

Well, no.

Not a ton of finished and published blog posts.  A whole bunch of partially finished ones, though.  Just sitting there waiting for me….

Anywho, my apologies for those of you that noticed my absence.  Hope you didn’t miss me too much.  :)

Oh – and if you DO need some boredom busters, you can find the books pictured above at BooksWithRosie.com.

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Book Review: Easter Bunny Lift a Flap Book

Easter Bunny Lift-a-Flap Board Book

This adorable Easter Bunny Flap Book is not only fun for kids – it’s the perfect size to fit into an Easter basket, too!

I like to give my kids new books for every holiday, and this year, this flap book is going into my daughter’s basket.

It’s technically a baby book, but I’m giving it to my 2 (almost 3) year old, and I know my 4 (almost 5) year old will enjoy flipping through it, too, helping her sister find where the Easter bunny hid all the eggs!

Aside from the flaps that you have to lift to find the eggs, kids will also enjoy the peek-through holes in the pages that give you a hint at who we’re going to visit on the next page.

You can watch me demonstrate more about this charming book in my video review:

The Easter Bunny Lift-a-Flap Board Book isn’t available any more on my Usborne Books site, but you can still find some used copies on Amazon.

Happy Easter and Happy Reading!!

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Book Review: Flippy Floppy Lift a Flap Jungle Animals

Flippy Floppy Jungle Animal Board Book

This Flippy Floppy Jungle Book is one of my kid’s newest fascinations.  They’ve been having a lot of fun with it.

It’s a great lift-the-flap board book from Usborne/Kane Miller that offers a lot of interaction for kids.

The purpose of the book is to lift four flaps in order to slowly reveal a hidden animal.  As you go, the animal you’re looking for appears as bits and pieces of other animals.  For example, the tail of the tiger is also the beak of a toucan and the body of a snake.

There are cut-outs to look through and a little bird to find on all of the pages.  The last page challenges kids to find all the animals again, and it’s sturdy enough for little hands to get excited about with thick pages and rounded corners.

I go into some more detail in my video review, where you can also see how it works:

And, yes… I’m aware that I have a strange expression on my face in the video thumbnail.  TRUST me – it was the best one!

I’m also aware that I keep calling it “Flippity Floppity Jungle Animals” on the video.  I don’t know why, but “Flippy Floppy” seems to be difficult for me to say…

Anyway, to see the book, or add it to your online wishlist, click:

Flippy Floppy Lift-the-Flap Jungle Animal Book

And if you like this book, you’ll also love:

Flippy Floppy Lift-the-Flap Farm Animals

Flippy Floppy Lift-the-Flap Farm Animals

Flippy Floppy Lift-the-Flap Ocean Animals

Flippy Floppy Lift-the-Flap Ocean Animals

Happy Reading!

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