8.08.2017

How To Make Awesome Cakes Without Any Baking

Way cooler than baking a cake! (5 stars)

Dessert is my heaven. Cake, pie, ice cream, pastries, you're all close friends. There's one humble treat though that hasn't gotten its due. The crispy rice treat deserves far more recognition as a brilliant combination of minimal ingredients and not needing an oven. On scorching hot days like today I'll brave the stovetop if I must but bake a birthday cake? Nope.

Which is where Jessica Siskin's clever book comes in! It raises the beige squares we all know from our childhood to an art form. Having tried my hand at this a few times in the past I can say that it does take some practice but the results are always delicious even if your design is a little lopsided. 

Siskin's ideas are a lot of fun from a checkerboard and life-size apples to a birthday cake and a barbecue there're designs and instructions for almost any occasion. Better yet, there aren't any crazy hard to find ingredients or techniques to learn. As long as you can follow directions and use measuring spoons/cups you're bound to create something adorable and be a total hit where ever you take it. One of my personal favorites is the cereal bowl, ha!

Notes: ARC received via NetGalley.


Treat Yourself!: How to Make 93 Ridiculously Fun No-Bake Crispy Rice Treats by Jessica Siskin


Cookbook, Desserts, Cake, No-Bake
Digital/Print (304 pages, WORKMAN)

It all began with a giant cheeseburger-shaped rice crispy treat, created on a whim and posted online. Since then, Misterkrisp, aka food artist Jessica Siskin, has become an Instagram sensation with her joy-inducing, pop-culture-inspired treats.
Treat Yourself! is the perfect answer for any cook, crafty food lover, or creative parent looking to make crowd-pleasing and personalized treats for birthdays, holidays, school events, and virtually every other occasion. With no baking required, these playful, visually dazzling sweets are simple enough for anyone to whip up.
Each of the 93 projects, arranged from Apple to Zebra, starts with a single base recipe. There are large, cake-sized treats to share and individual-sized treats perfect for bake sales and goody bags. Step-by-step instructions, vibrant illustrations, and downloadable templates ensure that anyone, with any level of skill, can turn out delicious, eye-catching creations: Lively designs for kids’ parties—Robot, Dinosaur, Crown, Balloons. A Cheeseburger. A Statue of Liberty. A Dancing Lady Emoji. And a sweet centerpiece for your next Super Bowl bash: a Football Stadium filled with sprinkle spectators. It’ll serve the neighborhood!
Treats have never been so much fun or so doable.



8.07.2017

Review: HEATHEN VOL. 1 by Natasha Alterici

My favorite graphic novel release (so far) for 2017! (5 stars)

This comic ticked so many "yes please" items off my list of things I like to read about I kinda want to run through the streets throwing copies at strangers. Beautiful art I'd love to hang on my walls. Check. Norse mythology. Check. Ass-kicking women warriors. Check. A romantic plot/subplot. Double check. A heroine rebelling against the culture of she was raised in and refusing to be changed to fit the "norm". CHECK!!!

I forget where I originally heard about Heathen but what initially excited me about reading it was that she was a queer character. I've been actively seeking more LGBTQIA+ reading both because I enjoy it and because I want to support those who are telling these stories. Heathen did not disappoint. Aydis is a character I'd happily follow to the halls of Valhalla, she's a feminist heroine that fans of Wonder Woman are sure to enjoy. I wouldn't suggest this for kids but when my daughter hits her teens I'd gladly let her read it.

Notes: ARC received via NetGalley.


HEATHEN VOL. 1 by Natasha Alterici

Comics, Graphic Novels, Mythology, LGBTQIA+, Feminism
Print (112 pages, VAULT)
Aydis is a viking, a warrior, an outcast, and a self-proclaimed heathen. Aydis is friend to the talking horse Saga, rescuer of the immortal Valkyrie Brynhild, and battler of demons and fantastic monsters. Aydis is a woman. Born into a time of warfare, suffering, and subjugation of women, she is on a mission to end the oppressive reign of the god-king Odin.


8.02.2017

21 Ways to a Happier Depression

For some this can be a handy resource. (4 stars)

Ugh, depression is the worst. I've been experiencing different types of depression from a really young age. Sadly, it runs heavily through my family and often manifests alongside addiction, eating disorders, and anxiety. Because I've experienced it in different ways at different ages and paired with different life circumstances I am ever searching for more ways to combat it. 21 Ways to a Happier Depression isn't going to cure anyone and it doesn't claim it will either but it could be a useful resource for those who are struggling.

My most recent—and most debilitating—bout with depression would not have been helped much. When it's a struggle to get out of the bed, finding the will to make the bed can be all but impossible. And that's one of the simplest suggestions here. Even so, many of the 21 ways could and will benefit anyone struggling with depression. Many of them are creative pursuits, others just simple self care. Maybe they seem difficult and for some they most definitely aren't realistic, but for others it might be a list to work through. One thing I find helps me during my depressions is having someone else give me lists of things to do. This book could be just that if you need it.

If you're living with depression or know someone who is I believe this book has the potential to bring some distraction at the very least and even moments of happiness if you're open to it.

Notes: Review copy received via NetGalley.


21 Ways to a Happier Depression: A Creative Guide to Getting Unstuck from Anxiety, Setbacks, and Stress by Seth Swirsky


Mental Health, Self-Help, Depression, Wellness
Digital/Print (112 pages, SOURCEBOOKS)
Say goodbye to dreary shades of black and white and start seeing the world for the prism of color it is with this refreshing and creative guide! In a unique combination of art, activities, and uplifting anecdotes, 21 Ways to a Happier Depression leads you on a hands-on journey to personal growth. Getting you out of one of "those moods" can be as simple as:
• Making the bed
• Nurturing a plant
• Painting shapes in loops and colors
• Breaking down your work into a to-do list
• Getting a fresh new look with some different dΓ©cor, or even a haircut!
Inspired by his own life experience, Clinical Psychologist Seth Swirsky gently encourages positive introspection through honest and practical advice. With this book, a happier depression is literally in your hands!



7.23.2017

7 Graphic Novels You Should Read This Week

πŸ“š I've been reading a massive amount of graphic novels over the summer thanks to my local public library, Comixology, and NetGalley. I decided to do a round-up style review post to share some of the best. πŸ‘‹

πŸ“£ If you like this post please leave a comment and tell me so I'll know to do this style again in the future. πŸ“£



Print/Digital (112 pages, BOOM! STUDIOS)

Mali and Tessa have lived hundreds of different lives throughout time, caught up in an eternal cycle as they take part in a war so old that neither side remembers what they’re fighting for anymore. As Mali wakes up in her newest life, she suddenly becomes self-aware and starts to question everything, especially why she continues to fight. But elsewhere, Tessa is already on the hunt...
Critically-acclaimed series, Welcome Back is a break-neck thriller of reincarnated assassins forever fighting, killing, and loving each other, by Eisner Award-nominated writer Christopher Sebela (Dead Letters, High Crimes) and artists Jonathan Brandon Sawyer (Critical Hit) and Claire Roe. Collects issues #1-4.


Note: This is a review of an advanced readers copy I received from NetGalley or the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Why you should read it: This comic has a gorgeous blend of angst and no-you're-crying emotive depth that's vividly illustrated. It's been a damned long time since I cried after reading a graphic novel but what a refreshingly heart-rending experience. I can't wait for the next volume to be available in digital. (5 stars)

Print/Digital (128 pages, ACTION LAB)
Adrienne has been on the run and working to save her sisters, but when she finds another princess locked away in a tower, she decides to spring her! But Raven Xingtao, the daughter of the Pirate King, is more of a handful than Adrienne could have ever expected. Before she knows it, Adrienne is off on a whirlwind adventure to complete Raven's quest for revenge!
The complete collected edition of Princeless: The Pirate Princess! (Ages 9 - 12)


Note: This is a review of a book I checked out at the library.

Why you should read it: A great series to share with your tween this was a hilarious meeting of two very headstrong heroines. Plenty of action, a dragon, and the introduction of a Princeless spin-off make it one I'm recommending to both adults and children alike. (4 stars)



Klaw Vol.2: The Second Cycle by Antoine Ozenam, Mike Kennedy, & Joel Jurion


Print (144 pages, LION FORGE)
The hit YA action series continues with volume 2, following secret were-tiger Angel Tomassini as he navigates the ancient underworld of secret societies hidden in the midst of everyday modern life! The Were War is coming, and he must find the other Dhizhi warriors before they are hunted to extinction by the many forces that are after them – crime lords, prophesies, government agencies, and paranoid others among their very ranks!

Note: This is a review of an advanced readers copy I received from NetGalley or the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Why you should read it: The first volume was so complex! I thought for sure it couldn't get any more confusing or expanded in its mythology. Nope, totally wrong. You definitely can't pick this up not having read the first one but another truly high quality story and illustrations. (4 stars)



Prince of Cats by Ron Wimberly

Print/Digital (152 pages, IMAGE)
Prince of Cats is the B side to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, played at an eighties block party in a NY where underground sword dueling blossomed alongside hip-hop, punk, disco and no wave. It's the story of the minor players with Tybalt at the center. Like Shakespeare's originals, Prince of Cats implements various formalist restraints. The definitive printing of Ronald Wimberly's critically acclaimed first work, presented as intended for the first time.

Note: This is a review of a book I checked out at the library.

Why you should read it: In the dozens of times I read and performed Romeo and Juliet in high school I always found myself far more interested in the secondary characters. Mercutio and Tybalt were always my favorites. So rarely though are writers daring enough to humanize the prince of cats. Ron Wimberly manages not only to do so, but to do so with bold style and a delicious nod to 80's hip-hop. Definitely my new favorite reimagining of the classic. (5 stars)


The Good Earth by Nick Bertozzi & Pearl S. Buck

Print/Digital (144 pages, PUB)
Pearl Buck’s 1931 Pulitzer Prize–winning classic about the rise and fall of Chinese villagers before World War I comes to life in this evocative graphic novel by New York Times bestselling author Nick Bertozzi.
In The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck paints an indelible portrait of China in the 1920s, when the last emperor reigned and the vast political and social upheavals of the twentieth century were but distant rumblings. This moving story of the honest farmer Wang Lung and his selfless wife O-Lan is must reading to fully appreciate the sweeping changes that have occurred in the lives of the Chinese people during the last century. Though more than eighty years have passed since this remarkable novel won the Pulitzer Prize, it has retained its popularity and become one of the great modern classics in American literature.
Now New York Times bestselling author Nick Bertozzi brings Buck’s timeless, epic novel to life with incredible imagery in this vivid graphic novel. Through his Eisner Award-winning talents, Bertozzi retraces the whole cycle of life depicted in the unforgettable original: its terrors, its passions, its ambitions, and its rewards. Buck’s brilliant novel—beloved by millions of readers—is a universal tale of an ordinary family caught in the tide of history, now accompanied by beautiful, evocative images.


Note: This is a review of an advanced readers copy I received from NetGalley or the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Why you should read it: Having never read The Good Earth in it's novel form but had heard it praised so often that I thought reading it as a graphic novel would be a good way to see if I would enjoy it. Now I know I would most assuredly not enjoy it. It is not a pleasant story and I was often moved to anger and grief for poor O-Lan. Yet, it is through reading of a time and place not my own that I saw the value of such a story. If you've wanted to read the book but feel like it might be daunting I think this graphic novelization would be a great way to do it. (4 stars)


Disney Manga: Beauty & Beast - Belle's Tale by Mallory Reaves & Studio Dice

Print/Digital (160 pages, TOKYOPOP)
In Disney's live-action film "Beauty and the Beast," Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle's enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast's hideous exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince inside. This manga explores Belle's innermost thoughts as she learns that true beauty comes from within. (Ages 9 - 12)
Disney Manga: Beauty & Beast - Beast's Tale by Mallory Reaves & Studio Dice

Print/Digital (160 pages, TOKYOPOP)
In Disney's live-action film “Beauty and the Beast,” Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle's enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast's hideous exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince inside. This manga explores the Beast's struggle as he tries to move on from his past and learn what it is to love. (Ages 9 - 12)

Note: This is a review of an advanced readers copy I received from NetGalley or the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Why you should read them: Beauty and the Beast was a favorite of mine long before Disney got their monopoly on it. But naturally, I enjoyed the classic animated film as well as the live action recreation that came out earlier this year. This manga tells the tale from both sides very well and you really shouldn't read one and not the other. If you liked the live action film these are based on that version and are sure to delight. (4 stars)
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