John Wayne Recommends

So the story here is that I’ve started working in an elementary school library and there is a knee-high statue of John Wayne. We can’t display John Wayne because he has a gun. But I also don’t want to get rid of John Wayne because, well, you know. So now he sits on the floor behind my desk. He doesn’t get a free-ride so I’m putting him to work:

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I grabbed this book because of its awesome title and I was not disappointed. The story follows two children who are going to be eaten by monsters because they wouldn’t stop whining. The problem is that they don’t know how best to prepare them. As a salad? Burgers? Lighter fare? I mean, really, how does one go about preparing a delicious whiny-child feast to appease the masses?

Review: “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs

peculiarThe cover work for this book is lovely.  I’ve always enjoyed the slightly dark tones mixed with innocence and yet, never found myself the time to pick it up.  Just like everything else I tend to read, it was years after a great book came out that I finally got to it.  If you enjoyed “The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making” by Catherynne M. Valente, I would suggest that you would enjoy this book.  If you did not enjoy “The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making” I would suggest you give it a try anyway.  It had the magical components that Fairyland has but, despite their magic, the characters were far more believable.  Riggs’ writing made me want to be their friends, to help them on their adventure.

Jacob Portman, a rather uninterested and uncommitted average teenager in Florida, is, well, bored.  He’s bored of his life as it is and as it is destined to be – the heir to Smart-Aid, a chain of drug stores.  He wants nothing to do with it and does all he can to mess up his job stocking shelves.  All of his life, he listened to his grandfather’s fantastical stories of children with special abilities and of monsters with gnashing teeth.  Eventually Jacob grew out of these stories while his grandfather was increasingly haunted by them.  It isn’t until the night Jacob finds his grandfather’s body as a demon runs away that the nightmares become his own.  Afraid of the night and all of it’s mysteries, Jacob sets out to Wales in search of the home of incredible children of his grandfather’s stories with the hope that he can end the nightmares.

He finds more than he bargains for with invisible children, people who float or create fire, who smash houses or create nature.  Their very existence is threatened by the wights and hallowgastss and our blase hero, Jacob, just might be the nervous fellow for the task.

Cooking Adventure: “i love cinnamon rolls!” by Judith Fertig

I am obviously doing a lousy job of keeping up on my reading, just lousy. In case you are curious, my lone reader, I am in the middle (beginning) of a few books. Ransom Riggs’ “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is on my nightstand and Rob Lowe’s “Stories I Tell My Friends” is in my car.

However, Judith Fertig’s “i love cinnamon rolls!” is on my kitchen counter after surviving the best kind of breakfast battle. Namely, indecision because all of the cinnamon and sugar-fueled possibilities were drool-worthy. Ultimately, I went with the traditional recipe (though rocky road cinnamon rolls are a definite possibility some day). I had expected them to be extra labor intensive as all my cinnamon roll attempts have been massive failures. These however came together beautifully and deliciously.

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Traditional Cinnamon Roll Dough:

  • 1 c milk
  • 4 T butter
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 1/3 c flour
  • 2 1/2 t yeast
  1. Combine milk, softened butter, sugar, and salt.  Microwave on high for one minute before whipping in the eggs.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and yeast.  Mix in the liquid ingredients and begin mixing.  The book suggests using a stand mixer but as I am both poor and in the need of an upper body workout, I used a sturdy spoon for several minutes.  I also had to add flour as I started kneading the dough.
  3. When it stops being a sticky mess, place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a clean towel to rise for 45-60 minutes.

Classic Cinnamon Rolls:

  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 T cinnamon
  • 8 T butter
  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 1/8 t salt
  1. Once the dough has risen, carefully roll it out on a floured surface.
  2. Spread 4 T of softened butter on the dough and then sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon (feel free to mix those two things together ahead of time).
  3. Carefully but tightly roll the dough into a log.  I used dental floss to slice the log into 12 rolls.  Place the rolls in a greased 9×13 pan.  Cover the pan and let rise a second time.  I was able to let the rolls rise overnight without worry.
  4. Bake the rolls at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes.
  5. Mix the remaining 4 T butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt.  Spread on the warm cinnamon rolls and enjoy!

Review: “If I Stay” by Gayle Forman

If I StayThere will come a day when I read something other than YA fiction but apparently today is not that day.  Gayle Forman’s “If I Stay” is, however, completely devoid of dragons and goblins and magic (except for love which is a kind of magic, right?).  It is considered a Quick Pick (10-Day Loan) at my library so that suggests its highly popular (or that our teen librarian wants it to be popular).  I have heard of Gayle Forman before but I’m fairly certain only in my Twitter interactions/observations of some of my favorite YA authors (if you are not following Rainbow Rowell or Tim Federle, fix it).

“If I Stay” stars Mia, a high school cellist with rocker parents, a precocious little brother, and a precocious rocker boyfriend.  She leans towards the refined classics and pretty much everyone leans towards the heavy metal power ballads but music, regardless of genre, binds them.  The loving little family of four go on a holiday drive when tragedy strikes.  Their car is hit, killing mom and dad on impact and baby brother follows shortly thereafter.  This really can’t be seen as a spoiler alert sort of situation; it’s essentially the first thing that happens in the book and sets up the rest of it.  At any rate, Mia, not dead, is shipped away to the hospital where an interesting thing happens: she finds herself in a purgatory-like state wandering the halls of the hospital, watching the chaos unfold including her body in bed fighting for life.  The story is told in alternating flashbacks to how her relationships with the various people who visit her in the hospital began and grew and her observations of the scene at the hospital.  It is an interesting way to tell a story especially in that the flashbacks show the audience just how much she has lost when losing her family to this tragedy.  It adds to internal conflict she faces as she questions whether or not she should stay alive or accept death.

It would also be worth mentioning that this book is currently being made into a film by New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.  You can find the trailer and more information on this August 22 release here.