Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bones Never Lie

How forensics Helps Solve History's Mysteries
by Elizabeth MacLeod

This is another nonfiction intended for children 10 years of age and older.  I'm just barely over that and I love science.  I taught high school biology and chemistry before retiring.  Being a forensic scientist would be a great job.  That's what this book is about - using forensics to solve history's mysteries.

Each chapter focuses on a famous person or group of people and how forensics was used to answer questions and solve mysteries.

The first chapter:  How Did and Entire Maya Royal Family Die?  Different forensic measures are discussed and how they were used to discover what happened to this important family.  Involved were studying and reading the bones, looking at the artifacts left with the bodies, studying the Mayan history, and limiting the suspects.

Chapter 2 - Was Emperor napoleon Bonaparte Poisoned? This chapter discusses what an autopsy is and how it helps solve crimes, the use of bugs that give clues about the blood and guts, knowledge of poisons and illness, etc.

Each chapter is immensely interesting.  If I was a 10 year, I know I would devour every  tale and want to grow up to be a forensic scientist.  My grandson is dead set on being an airplane pilot, but my 9-yr-old granddaughter is undermined.  Well, she's pretty set on win gold in swimming at the Olympics but after that she needs a job.

Other mysteries discussed & solved in this book are King Tut, Kan Maax, Louis XIII, Louis XIV, The Man in the Iron Mask,Louis XVI, Louis XVII, Grand Duchess Anastasia, King Rama VIII, King Rama IX.  (Did you notice that many Louis that had questionable deaths?)

I loved this book and highly recommend it for sparking an interest in a young child's brain.  What a good source for a report for history or science.

I received a free copy of Bones Never Lie from NetGalley for an honest review.  No other compensation was given.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

10 Plants that Shook the World

by Gillian Richardson

Is it just me or does everyone perk up at titles like this?  Books about the longest feuds of all time, the top inventions, the weirdest animals, the greatest speeches, anything with a list intrigues me.

My favorite classes in college were my botany classes so when I was this book dealing with plants I requested it from NetGalley.  I couldn't wait to read what the 10 plants were that shook the world and discover what criterion the author used to wheedle the list down to ten.  The introduction didn't really discuss why some were chosen over others.  This book is aimed at children age 10 and above, so that may explain why poppies, marijuana, or hops didn't make the list.  I guess the claim isn't that these are the top 10 plants to shake the world - only that these 10 did have a big influence on the vast populations of the entire world, not just a region or country.

That said, here's the list:  tea, sugarcane, corn, potatoes, cacao, pepper, cotton, rubber, chinchona (quinine bark), and papyrus.

This is the type of book that I love to buy and set out on an end table for the grandkids to pick up and read a bit here and there.  I want them to be exposed to a lot of different interests to broaden their horizons.  I learned some fascinating tidbits of this book and recommend it.

Have you ever heard of Fordlandia?  It was Henry Ford's dream to build a megacity and rubber plantation on the amazon.  When you think of potatoes, don't you think of Ireland and Idaho?  Potatoes came to Europe in 1570 from Peru.

These plants have brought about ease, comfort, improvements in life style, health and taste but there stories are often filled with greed and dishonesty by governments and businesses.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Prairie Chicken Little

 by Jackie Mims Hopkins
Illustrated by Henry Cole

I grew up loving the story of Chicken Little so when I saw this new version of the tale I wanted to read it.  In this version there's a real threat not a misinterpreted one.

Prairie Chicken Little hears a rumblin' and a grumblin' and a tumblin' and is sure a stampede is coming.  She feels she must warn Cowboy Stan and Red Dog Dan so she runs lickety-splickety across the prairie to tell them.  Along the way she meets other prairie friends who become convince of the impending danger and go with her to issue the warning.

One of the prairie creatures she encounters is Slim Brody the sly coyote who tells the group about a short cut.  You'll have to read for yourself to see if Slim Brody is really offering help or not.  Will Prairie Chicken Little get the message to Cowboy Stan and Red Dog Dan in time?

I highly recommend this book.  It reminded me of my children's favorite, What Was That? because it had lots of repetition of fun lines and fun words that they enjoyed saying with me.  This is the kind of book that children will love hearing over and over again and joining in on those fun repetitions.  Since my copy was an eBook for the Adobe Reader I didn't get to enjoy the artwork, but from the fun cover, I'll bet it's cute & vivid throughout.

Here's what a prairie chicken looks like.  In this picture you can just barely see one of the orange sacs on the side of the male's neck.  When it is mating season or when in battle he puffs those little sacs up to impress the females or to scare away other males.

I received a copy of Prairie Chicken Little from NetGalley and Peachtree Publishers in exchange for my honest review.  I received nmonetary compensation. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

10 Plants That Shook the World Trivia Question

by Gillian Richardson

I'm reading a children's book that is proving to be very interesting.  Before I post my review in a few days I thought I'd post a trivia question.

How many of the 10 Plants That Shook the World you can name?

I'm trusting you not to cheat -  the glory comes in guessing the correct ones, not looking them up on the internet and rewriting them in the comments.  No prizes.  This is just for the fun of it.  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Next Time You See Me

by Holly Goddard Jones

I feel like I'm on a reading high.  The last three books I've read have been top-notch.  All three are mysteries, but are quite different in voice, story line, and settings.  The first was The German Suitcase set in WWII and present day, then Three Graves Full that was at once hilarious and tense, and third The Next Time You See Me is a small town drama.

I was surprised to discover that this is a debut novel.  It's very well written, crisp and descriptive.  The characters are flawed, likable and sympathetic.  The story is told with direction and compassion.  I can easily see this book on the New York Times best selling list and in Oprah's magazine as one of the year's best.  It's an excellent choice for book clubs because there is so much depth to the story and the characters.  So much to discuss.

Here's the jacket write-up:
In The Next Time You See Me, the disappearance of one woman, the hard-drinking and unpredictable Ronnie Eastman, reveals the ambitions, prejudices, and anxieties of a small southern town and its residents. There’s Ronnie’s sister Susanna, a dutiful but dissatisfied schoolteacher, mother, and wife; Tony, a failed baseball star-turned-detective; Emily, a socially awkward thirteen-year-old with a dark secret; and Wyatt, a factory worker tormented by a past he can’t change and by a love he doesn’t think he deserves. Connected in ways they cannot begin to imagine, their stories converge in a violent climax that reveals not just the mystery of what happened to Ronnie but all of their secret selves.
I eagerly anticipate more novels by Ms. Jones and highly recommend this one for others to pick up and read.  There's a little bit of mystery but it's mostly literary drama.  I'm betting you'll like it.  After you read your copy will you let me know how you think the title connects to the story.  That would be another good thing to discuss with my f2f book group.

 ** I received a  copy of The Next Time I See You  from Simon & Shuster in exchange for my honest review.  No other compensation was received.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Year-Round Slow Cooker

by Dina Cheney

I was a bit disappointed when I first browsed through these recipes because they require a little more food preparations than I am used to.  When I think of slow cooker I generally think I'll throw all the ingredients in, put on the lid, and go about my business.

Then I got to thinking ~ I am willing to put quite a bit of effort into a nice meal, on occasion.  Where is it written that a slow cooker can't be used for a gourmet meal.  Why not use the slow cooker as one of the different tools we have in our kitchens to make delicious, elegant meals as well as fast, easy meals.

This book is divided into 4 sections ~ one for each season.  Just look over these delicious sounding recipes in the summer section. (I jumped to the summer section first because I'm so tired of winter!)
Summer Brisket with roasted Red Peppers
Pulled pork Sandwiches with Peach Barbecue Sauce
Pulled Chicken with Cherry-Chile Barbecue Sauce
Beef Peppers stuffed with Latin Beef Picadilla
Triple-Apricot 'French Toast' Bread Pudding with Sea Salt Caramel Sauce
Corn-Vanilla Pudding with Triple Berry Sauce
As you can see these are not your run-of-the-mill slow cooker recipes.  And, yes, they do require a little more effort but I'm looking forward to trying some of these for those times I feel adventurous and when I want something especially tasty.  You can tell by the few recipes titles I listed above that these recipes are something special.  I've always been turned off by slow cooker cookbooks that only include 30 different soup recipes and a few bland casseroles.  That is NOT this cookbook.

Throughout the book Cheney provides tips such as getting the most flavor from slow cooker dishes, why it's important to brown some meats first, power ingredients, and information on certain ingredients.  I learned that I shouldn't overload my frying pan when browning my meats because it steams them instead.   I need to leave space in between each piece.

I received this book from NetGalley on behalf of Dina Cheney and The Taunton Press, Inc. in exchange for my review.   I received no other compensation.  The only thing I didn't like was the book had to be read on Adobe Digital Editions, which meant I had to sit at my computer to read it.  That also means I cannot print out a copy of a recipe to take into the kitchen so it makes it difficult to try any of the recipes.