Friday, April 3, 2015

Bookreview: Kindle Buffet by Steve Weber

Author: Steve Weber
Genre: non-fiction
Published: 2014
Personal rating: 2/5
Yearly count: 4

Kindle Buffet is a book that promises to help you find and download the best free books, magazines and newspapers for your Kindle, iPhone, iPad, or Android. Now doesn’t that sound great? It probably would be greater if it didn’t feel like a giant commercial for the author’s website, Kindle Buffet. Now granted, he comes right out and tells you Kindle Buffet is his website and therefore his favorite. And Kindle Buffet does publish some links to free Kindle books. But I want more than just that!

To be fair, the author does give out some other sites that also show you free Kindle books. But it’s not much. Then he goes on about books that are free because they’re in the public domain. He gives the link to the Kindle section for those books, as well as Project Gutenberg. But he mentions there’s a lot pf places to find these books…except he doesn’t tell you where. Then he goes on about Amazon Prime. Which, while it may be a good deal, is not free. And I’m honestly not even sure if it’s available for non-USA customers. But even if it is, it’s still 79 dollar annually!

The weird part is, that despite the title, there’s a part in this book about Adobe Digital Editions that lets you loan e-books from your library. What this has to do with finding free content for my Kindle, I don’t know. The part about loaning books with your Kindle from libraries or friends with a Kindle was more appropriate. There’s also a bit about using the Kindle’s Document Service…which didn’t, so far as I could see, have anything to do with getting free content. Neither did telling me that I can search within an e-book’s content with my Kindle.

One good part I found was about recognizing illegal content. If you’re searching for legal, free books, it’s good to be aware of this so you don’t accidentally steal an author’s work. They’ve got enough trouble making a living as it is. Another plus of this book was the part about Apps, but that’s only useful if you have a Kindle Fire. Since I have a first-generation Kindle, that’s not me. Getting free news with Calibre on my Kindle sounds nice, but honestly, I think it’s quicker just reading the news on the internet. But that might just be me. There’s actually a big section about working with Calibre, because it can convert things to a Kindle format, including books. It wasn’t news to me, but it’s a good section.

Basically, this book could’ve used a good editor. There’s some good bits of information in there, but it’s scattered. I also found the book very disorganized. Not really recommended, as I’m sure there’s a better way to find the same information without having to slog through this.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Bookreview: Mediterranean Cookbook: 40 Easy and Delicious Mediterranean Diet Recipes

Author: Patrick Smith
Genre: non-fiction, cookbook
Published: 2014
Personal rating: 3.5/5
Yearly count: 3

This cookbook is as much a diet book as a cookbook. It’s divided into two parts. The first part is about the diet, including a part about what should be in your kitchen, both ingredient and equipment wise. It talks about the diet, which is based on eating like the people in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea do. A lot of it sounds like common sense, actually. Reserving sweets for special occasions, downsizing on the amount of meat consumed, eating breakfast every day, and eating lots of vegetables all sound like good eating practices, no matter the type of world cuisine that’s on your plate. One thing I really liked about this first part is the emphasis on exercise that needs to coincide with the diet, as the two combined make for a healthy lifestyle. Also, I liked that the focus was on getting healthier in general and not on losing weight.

The second part of the book contains the actual recipes. It’s divided into chapters covering breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. The recipes include the serving size and the calories per serving. The recipes are easy to follow. There’s a good variety of recipes, although the snacks are more appetizers than true snacks as I see snacks. Unfortunately, there’s no pictures of the recipes. I tried out the recipe for Carrot Garlic Soup and it turned out pretty well, although I’d make it a bit thinner next time. That’s a personal preference though, and the taste was great. I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes Mediterranean foods, or who is looking to adopt a healthier diet.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bookreview: Paleo Mexican: Amazingly Good Tex-Mex Paleo Recipes at Home

Author: Kat Samson
Genre: non-fiction, cookbook
Published: 2014
Personal rating: 4/5
Yearly count: 2

The book starts with an introduction, ingredient list and tools/equipment chapters. Then the actual recipes come, divided into chapters for appetizers, dips & salsa, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The introduction gives a bit of information on how a paleo diet – which excludes beans, corn and wheat – can be combined with the Tex-Mex kitchen that so heavily features these ingredients. The ingredients chapter gives some basic information about the main ingredients used in the recipes, like chili peppers and tomatoes, and the tools/equipment chapter does the same for the basic kitchen tools needed to make the recipes. No specialty tools required!

The recipes are a joy to read. They include information like prep time, cooking time, serving size and nutritional information per serving. The directions in the recipes are clear, concise and laid out in a step by step format. There’s a variety of dishes in each chapter, so there’s something for everyone’s taste. Of course, it’s also easy to take a dish like Mexican Breakfast Soup and eat it for dinner if you wish, so the diversity found in this book is awesome. Because the recipes are paleo, there’s some less common recipes found in this book, and that makes it better than many run-of-the-mill Tex-Mex books I’ve seen. To top it off, the recipe I tried – Egg and Sausage Lettuce Wraps – was very tasty! The only downside to this book is that there are no pictures of the dishes. All in all, recommended for anyone who likes Tex-Mex, the paleo diet, or both!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bookreview: From Mother to Daughter

Author: Oksana Vitruk
Genre: cookbook, non-fiction
Published: 2013
Personal rating: 2.5/5
Yearly count: 1

This cookbook started as a way for Oksana Vitruk to pass on her family recipes to her daughters, but she decided to make it available for everyone. Some of the recipes are familiar ones, others are unfamiliar – mainly those that are more traditional Eastern-European ones. I always like discovering new recipes and this book delivers on that. The pictures that accompany each recipe give you a nice look at what a dish is supposed to look like, even if you’ve never heard of it before. It’s clear the photography isn’t professional, although it’s nicely done, but that makes it more accessible I think.

The chapters are Soups, Main Dishes, Meat Dishes, Seafood Dishes, Breakfast Ideas, Pancakes, Appetizers, Dumplings, Salads and Preserving, Drinks, and Desserts. It’s a good distribution of types of dishes. I also liked the comments on other options for the recipes (like which other ingredients you could use, or what to serve it with) but not all the recipes had those comments.

There were some, rather big, downsides to this book, though. Some of the recipes felt like they were missing some essential information about, for instance, cooking time. Or in the case of the breakfast dish, soaking time for the bread in the egg and milk mixture. Some recipes just say ‘use any desired amount’ which personally I find very irritating. Give me an amount and then say I can play around with that amount, but at least I’ll have a starting point then. Also, there’s no directions for how many people you can feed with the recipes. Having to guess how many people I can feed based on the amount of ingredients is not a good way to get me to try out a recipe.

All in all, I’d give this 2.5 stars. It has potential, but especially not knowing how many people I can feed will prevent me from cooking much with this book.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bookreview: Rachel's Secret

Author: Shelly Sanders
Genre: historical
Published: 2012
Personal rating: 4/5
Yearly count: 15

Rachel’s Secret is a historical novel set in Kishinev in 1903. Back then, Kishinev was still Russian, though now it’s the capital of Moldova. Early in the year, the Jewish Rachel witnesses the murder of a Christian boy. Forced to keep silent, suspicion falls to the Jewish community. Tensions rise as prejudice and rumors abound and eventually it all comes to a head.

I really enjoyed this story. Rachel’s Secret is a well written book, with writing that flows and makes reading this books fast and easy, despite the topic. It’s well researched and that shows, without letting the details overwhelm the story. I don’t know if this book is marketed as young adult, but I think it would be a good book for young adults. At its core, the story is a coming of age tale. It’s also the first in a trilogy, and I do think I’d be interested in reading the other two. But, the story stands very well on its own. Recommended for those who like historical fiction and coming of age stories.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Bookreview: Seawitch

Author: Alistair MacLean
Genre: thriller, action/adventure
Published: 2014
Personal rating: 2.5/5
Yearly count: 14

Seawitch is the story and name of a new type of oil drilling platforms, large, sophisticated and mobile. It’s set in the latter half of the 1970s, after the 1973 oil crisis. The Seawitch is owned by billionaire Lord Worth, who plans to greatly undercut the established oil companies. This, not surprisingly, makes him a lot of powerful enemies who will do anything to stop him. Thrown in some Cold War and anti-US countries looking to make trouble as well, and you have a right mess. But when the two daughters of Lord Worth are kidnapped, the two private detectives who are in friends with them get involved.

Now, that sounds like a thrilling story, full of action. And in a way it is. There’s action and explosions and tension…well, maybe not that last one. The story is told in a third person omniscient voice and that narrative voice sounds, quite frankly, bored. The story style is more summarizing, hand waving, ‘oh, this happened’ than anything else. Not even the most tense moments managed to actually come across as exciting. It all fell very flat. This was not helped by the fact that the characters seemed very much like caricatures. There was no depth to any of them.

The story had a lot of promise, the premise was great, the events in the book would make a good story, but the way it was told makes it rather boring. All in all, this book disappointed me. It was a fairly fast read, but hardly the thrilling thriller I expected.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Short Story Review: Percy Jackson and the Singer of Apollo

Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: humor, action/adventure
Published: 2013
Personal rating: 4/5
Short story count: 1

A short Percy Jackson story that can be read entirely independent from the Percy Jackson series, although it’s canonically set after book 5 if I got it right. It’s a part of the Other Worlds anthology. It’s funny and has a good dose of action. I liked it a lot.