Book Review Round-Up: June 30

This month has been a busy month! Finishing up another class, doing a lot of work stuff, and reading a lot of books has taken up a lot of my time. Here’s my quick review post for June 30th, 2019. Three non-fiction books and one children’s fiction, which was actually surprisingly pleasant!


The Fate of Food by Amanda Little
Published by Crown Publishing – Harmony
Released on June 4, 2019
My rating: 5/5

This ARC was received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One of my big curiosities in life has been around, literally, the future of food in a landscape where climate change has affected our environment. I was pleasantly surprised when the author actually delivers on the premise, and with so much detail! I really enjoyed the back and forth on different technologies being utilized and developed, and the willingness to include negative aspects of our food system and technologies.

I was also intrigued by the chapter in lab grown meats, and the author’s willingness to go out of her way to all these different places for each subject. The farmed fish chapter was especially interesting to me given the interesting look at technology and the impact that fish have on the environment versus other types of meats.

The author does a great job at portraying the topics at hand, and I found myself reading large chunks at a time, because I wanted to know more! Food is an incredibly important part of all of our lives, and in the age of climate change, how will we adapt?


Neurodiverse Relationships by Joanna Pike
Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Releases July 18, 2019
My rating: 4/5

This ARC was received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’m going to echo other comments about my disappointment that all the relationships in this book come from an autistic male/ NT female perspective.

With that being said, I found this as an intriguing look into both sides of the table. I actually feel that this was a pretty balanced look: you get both views on the same situation and the comments/insights and emotions to go along with it. To downplay the feelings of the NT partner is unfair given that a marriage is between two individuals. If one feels that they are taking the “adult” position over a “teen,” then that is an important distinction to make that there are things that the couple should work out together. The hard part is actually working out viable solutions.

I appreciate how the author handles these various situations. Not only do we get the couples insight individually, but we also have a third view (Tony, who is a specialist) that analyzes the text from both sides. He praises the NT partner when they realize the positive traits and works with their partner on relationship issues, and offers an insightful look into handling these situations. This is something sorely needed for couples where a partner is not NT.


Childfree by Choice by Dr. Amy Blackstone
Published by PENGUIN GROUP – Dutton
Released June 11, 2019
My rating: 4/5

This ARC was received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

As a millennial, I really relate to the premise of the book. I know a good number of other people who are child free or not expecting to have children until their 30s, but one of the most common questions I’m asked is how many kids I have.

I appreciate how the author goes into details about the societal expectations of having children, and how there are racial and class implications to these expectations as well. It was sad to learn about the history in the United States, and it was frustrating to see that these attitudes persist into current day given the implications of overpopulation and immigration. These negative societal views do affect the health of people with and without children; the amount of children you have is never enough or too many, according to our culture.

All of the facts in the book are cited and linked to the resources in the back, which was pleasantly surprising. I was pleasantly surprised by this since sometimes these books don’t include sources when making claims.


Realm Quest: Lair of the Skaven by Tom Huddleston
Published by Warhammer Publishing
Released May 14, 2019
My review: 4/5

This ARC was received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

OK, I’m going to admit that I wasn’t sure how exactly kid-friendly you could make the Warhammer (and 40K) universe, but somehow Tom Huddleston did just that. I have enough of a background with Warhammer and a resource to ask when questions pop up, so I think I get where this series is trying to go. It read like a kid-safe series that fans could introduce to their kids that doesn’t immediately throw them into the nitty-gritty of the universe off the bat.

When I finished reading this book, I double-checked the intended age group for this series because the vocabulary seemed a bit of a stretch for younger readers. It’s aimed at kids between 8 to 12 years, so it might be a bit difficult for the younger side but perfect for those a little bit older. I was also a bit confused at the beginning and was wondering what the background was, but also found out that this is the second book in the series! Whoops. It’s not a big enough issue that you couldn’t jump in without it, but would help make some more sense to read the first one.


Thanks for sticking with me! I have a lot of new books to read and review, so I’m super excited to get through the list. Lots of new non-fiction coming down the pipeline that covers a variety of different topics, especially politics!

New Release: This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

I won this ARC from BookishFirst (Publisher: Saga Press) in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: July 16, 2019
Authors: Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
My BookishFirst Rating: 4/5


My BookishFirst Review:

Although I will admit this universe and timeline were a bit challenging for me to follow, I did find that I really enjoyed the way that the way the characters Red and Blue encountered each other in every instance. It was an interesting back-and-forth interaction between the two characters as they weaved through different timelines, leaving notes and letters for each other with feelings that eventually grew into love. The focus in this was less on the places that they went to, but more on the characters themselves that intertwined themselves into these different times. I found that as I kept reading, I looked forward to the setup of the scenario and wondered how they would work against each other to thwart those plans.

I enjoyed the mixture of light-hearted writing that pokes fun at various cultural items, while the serious parts kept me going to see what was going to happen next. I have just some big outstanding questions, and I wish that there was some kind of writing on this, but was how the timelines were set up. Are there just a bazillion of different timelines all existing at the same time? Are there ones off-limits to one side or the other? What would stop one side from going all the way to the beginning to mess everything up upstream? Although I had these questions (and would enjoy clarification on them!), I put them aside and just went with the story to enjoy what would happen to Red and Blue.


What I liked:

  • I enjoyed the read: it was poetic, yet not too much so that you drown in words upon words about the environment. The amount of information included by the authors set the scene and let the reader know what either Red or Blue looked like in that section. It wasn’t super wordy, and was straight to the point.
  • There was some really funny light-hearted poking throughout the novel. One of the chapters really got me — I don’t want to spoil it, but once you read it, you probably would get a kick out of it too. 🙂 It’s pretty early on.
  • The characters developed! What?! I loved seeing how the characters changed over the chapters as they encountered each other over and over again.
  • The length of each ‘chapter’ was great. I liked how quick the authors were to establish the scene and the situation, then get to what we’re really after — the letters. Gimme gimme gimme!
  • I liked how the scenes were so radically different from each other. There was wilderness, prehistoric, cyberpunk, steampunk, etc… it was a lot of variety and I didn’t feel bored by the situations. I loved the mesh of sci-fi with everything else.

What I didn’t like:

  • It might be an issue on my part, but the time traveling portion really left me with a lot of questions that weren’t answered. They offered some breadcrumbs towards the end, but didn’t really offer enough on that part! I wish they offered some more information exactly on the time travel portion, even though I know the focus is on the character and relationship building.
  • I wish there was a little more after the ending — I felt like another chapter would’ve really hit the spot! Not going to spoil the ending, but just as a reader I wanted just a tiny bit more.

Who should read this?

I think both a teen and adult reader who enjoys sci-fi would take a liking to this read. You have to be a little forgiving as the focus is on the character building and not the world building, so if this is something that you can’t get past, it might not be the right read for you.

It’s also a quick read (I burned through it in a few hours over a day). So great for anyone who doesn’t have a lot of time to enjoy a book!

New Release: The Girl Who Became a Goddess by Theresa Fuller

This ARC was received from Bare Bear Media in exchange for an honest review.

Published: May 21, 2019
Author:
Theresa Fuller (Facebook)
My NetGalley Rating: 5/5


My NetGalley Review:

I am so glad I pushed through the first set of stories to read the rest of the book! I found the first story to be somewhat dry, but continued on to the rest of the tales, some of which were long and some of which were extremely short.

Theresa did a great job in translating and writing these stories for us to read. I found myself really enjoying the last story, and couldn’t get enough — once I figured out what it was about it was an ahah moment. I don’t want to spoil any of the stories, but I would really suggest picking this one up if you’re into folklore at all.


What I liked:

  • That this is a collection of stories from Southeast Asia and Oceania that pulls on the author’s childhood. There are words in other languages, identified in italics, that may require you to look to the back of the book to translate. A lot of the words to me are pretty straight-forward, and I appreciate that she didn’t try to awkwardly translate them into English! (I have a lot of complaints about people doing this with Korean & Japanese.)
  • The pure variety of stories that were included in this book. You have some extremely short stories, literally a page long, to a story that’s multiple chapters in length. No matter the length, the majority of the stories were extremely fun to read, and I even did get a little scared at one of the stories! The stories did well to tug at my heart strings and make me feel certain ways.
  • Theresa’s writing works extremely well for the stories that she portrayed. I found that they weren’t presumptuous or flowery, and were enough to tell me what was going on. (I hate too much description.)
  • To me, the best story is last, but to each their own. I enjoyed finding out what the meaning of the story was at the end!
  • The personal notes from Theresa at the end of every story is fabulous. I loved reading into her personal life and learning a bit more about the story that she wrote, it adds a personal touch to each.

What I didn’t like:

My main complaint is that the first story really made me want to DNF the book because I just could not get through it. I’m extremely glad I continued to read, though, because the rest of the stories are just fantastic. I’m not exactly sure why the first one ended up being such a chore.

Who is this for?

Definitely teens and adults who are looking for a good read that isn’t too strenuous. I enjoyed this in chunks when I had free time during the workday.

Currently Reading: June 23

I’ve got a lot of stuff to read!

Guess who requested a lot of ARCs from NetGalley and Edelweiss, and is slowly making her way through them? ME ME ME! Between work, grad school, and regular life, I’ve somehow found time to read through books via short breaks in my schedule. Here’s what I’m currently reading!

Note: ARCs received from publishers have been given in exchange for an honest review.


The Fate of Food by Amanda Little
Genre: Nonfiction (adult), Science
ARC received from Crown Publishing via NetGalley

Released June 4, 2019

Ever wondered how climate change will affect our food supply and what types of technologies are coming up to deal with feeding billions of people? That’s what this book is all about!


The Watanabe Name by Sakura Nobeyama
Genre: Historical, Mystery
ARC received from Black Rose Writing via NetGalley

Releases July 18, 2019

If you have a familiarity with family expectations and drama, you might like this one. I’m finding it OK so far but haven’t been totally pulled into it as of yet.


Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell
Genre: Biography, Nonfiction (Adult)
ARC received from Profile Books via NetGalley

Releases August 29, 2019

This has been an interesting read! I’m finding the format fun to follow along with. It literally is a description of being a bookseller in a diary form.


Neurodiverse Relationships by Joanna Pike
Genre: Nonfiction (adult)
ARC received from Jessica Kingsley Publishers via NetGalley

Releases July 18, 2019

Although this book is aimed towards autistic-neurotypical relationships, I feel like there is some overlap with other non-neurotypical types of partners that this advice could definitely be useful for. The read is a little intense, but I enjoy reading both sides of the table.


Final note: I have 15 outstanding ARCs from NetGalley to read, so I’m prioritizing my reads to make sure I get them done on time. 🙂

Book Review Round-Up: June 9

OK, so I’ve had a bit of extra time to read more books lately (it helps when you read instead of browse social media). I have a few book reviews to post this week, so let’s get started!

As a note, all links posted are to each book’s Amazon page for order/pre-order.


Anxiety Management for Kids on the Autism Spectrum
by Christopher Lynch
Releases July 1, 2019

Rating: 5/5

I have quite a bit of experience around anxiety and the causes around anxiety, but wanted to get a deeper understanding of the differences for kids with autism. I have absolutely no background on autism, so this is totally new for me. This book was quite eyeopening: it clearly spelled out different circumstances where a child may break down, and goes into the possible reasons behind why it might’ve happened although it might’ve looked like it came on from nowhere. The author goes into a lot of the common reasons of anxiety and breakdowns for these kids, which makes a lot of sense with the background knowledge he supplies throughout the book.

I found this to be extremely educational. Even for a person with little to no background knowledge on the subject, I could easily understand what was being discussed. This could possibly be of use to other populations of kids who also have issues with anxiety, such as kids with ADHD or overly sensitive children, that can be easily overwhelmed. As a layperson, it also humanizes some of what we see in public when we see children who break down, and it isn’t always something that the parent can control.


Everything Below the Waist: Why health care needs a feminist revolution
by Jennifer Block
Releases July 16, 2019

Rating: 5/5

Holy cannoli! This book is chock full of information and so many bits of historical information around why healthcare is the way it is for women today. I really didn’t expect that when I requested this book, and I’m pleasantly surprised by that.

I have a public health background and did an internship at Planned Parenthood as a student, so these issues are near and dear to me. Jennifer Block did a great job at processing all the information and history around topics like birth control, abortion, and other women’s health issues like how women have typically not been valued in the health care arena. I actually learned a lot of new information, which was intriguing to me and makes me think about the current abortion restrictions; will we possibly see some of these brown bags come back in states that have incredibly restrictive abortion laws? (If you don’t know what this is about, get the book, because that really made an impact on me!)

This is a VERY information dense book. It may take some time to read, but it is a GOOD read for women to understand the historical reasons for the current state of women’s healthcare in the United States.


Drawing: Trees with William F. Powell
by William F. Powell
Released May 7, 2019

Rating: 5/5

I like to draw webcomics, yet I hate drawing scenery. This makes for boring comics.

I requested this book on NetGalley to see if I could really get some tips and tricks on drawing trees, and the artist definitely produced some good ways to handle drawing different types of trees and branches. This might be geared towards the physical artist with a pencil, but someone who is digitally learning how to draw can also utilize the steps in this book to create better looking scenes.


Thanks for reading this week’s round-up! I’m always looking for more books to read, so if you think something might be down my alley, just send me the name and I’ll take a look. 🙂

New Release: Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal

After looking for some horror books to try and get into, I found this book by chance on NetGalley and was not disappointed!

Click the image to go to the Amazon page

Published: June 4, 2019 (today!)
Author: Ann Dávila Cardinal
My NetGalley Rating: 5/5


My NetGalley Review:

It might look like I give a lot of positive reviews, but it’s more the fact that I’m extremely choosy about the books I spend my time with. I’m glad I picked this one up when I was perusing through NetGalley!

I’m a big fan of creepy stories, and have had an extremely hard time finding a good creepy story to read. This one definitely tickled my fancy. The author did a fantastic job in transporting the reader to Puerto Rico, the beautiful areas to the crime ridden ones, to move the story along. I felt like I could picture the locations that they went to.

The romance in this book was fantastic. I appreciate an author who can cultivate relationships and not just plunge the poor reader into a cold bath of “I love you soooo much”although it might not be relevant. I felt that the ending was a bit rushed, but I felt satisfied after seeing the loose ends tied up.

As a biracial person myself, I found the focus on identity to be grating at first, but it did make sense as the story continued. I can’t dock stars for that. 🙂

If you enjoy creepy things, with a bit of romance and mystery in a tropical setting, I’d suggest picking up the book… it just came out today!


What I liked about the book:

When I enjoy a good book, I want to read it during work, not only after work! I binged this book today whenever I had a chance to pull out my Kindle at work and kept reading because I really had to find out how this whole thing was going to end.

This author really did her research on drugs and drug addiction, which I noticed from the last few pages of the book that she did quite a bit of research into this whole novel. The pang of desire for an addict and how easy it is to start using was just so well written out that I could really feel for the characters who were involved with addiction. It was interesting to see how many characters addiction touched in this story.

I also enjoyed the characters. They had realistic drives and interests with backgrounds and history that made sense to their personalities. Relationships were cultivated and not forced, which I really appreciated since I really abhor super romantic and not realistic romantic writing. It felt like romance was a side point and not the focus, which was great because Ann Dávila Cardinal really focused on the creepy stuff! Yay!!!

Speaking of creepy: I enjoyed the thread of unease throughout the book. I also enjoy SCP Foundation stories. It’s not totally on the same level of SCP, but is definitely a step in that direction that is hard to find for some reason.


What I wasn’t a fan of:

The main thing I wasn’t a fan of in the writing was just how quickly everything wrapped up into a nice bow. I wasn’t totally expecting some of the main characters to do what they did at the end, and those relationships felt a tad rushed. (It might be because it’s also a YA — this isn’t my typical genre so I’m not sure what to expect) ((I also edited my original statement because I don’t want to spoil the story))

One minor thing that did get on my nerves was the focus on being biracial and not belonging. I totally get that there’s a reason for it, but it hit a little too close to home for me as a biracial person… though Ann might know as well, being a Gringa-Rican!


Who is this for?

Anyone who is looking for a quick read of multicultural urban horror!

Traveling with Celiac Disease: O’ahu, Hawai’i

Celiac Disease (CD) can be a real pain in the ass when it comes to traveling. From bringing food onto an airplane, to making sure the CD-sufferer has safe food and snacks throughout the entirety of the trip, it becomes a real ordeal to travel. Some destinations are way more Celiac-friendly than others. This means that a lot more prep and research has to go into any trip.

Our rules for safe Celiac eating:

  1. 100% dedicated gluten free facilities are always the best.
  2. Restaurants with dedicated food allergy areas and protocols are second best.
  3. Restaurants with airborne flour are a hard no. Looking at you, non-segregated pizza spots.
  4. Other restaurants that are confused when Celiac or wheat allergies are mentioned is a hard no. These places are extremely risky.
  5. Every restaurant that is not 100% dedicated gf gets questioned on how safe they are, and the order noted it is for a Celiac and gluten-allergic eater. Gluten-allergy doesn’t exist, but more people recognize the severity of an allergy versus Celiac Disease.

We recently traveled to O’ahu to celebrate our cousin’s wedding, and it was a treat! Perusing Find Me Gluten Free got me very concerned about what I’d be able to eat since it didn’t seem like a lot at first glance, but being located in an extremely touristy area worked to my advance in finding safe food.

We stayed around Ko’Olina in a villa with a full kitchen. All of the resorts around us had restaurants that could reliably accommodate CD, but we kept heading back to Aulani (Disney). Character dining, buffet, Disney! 🐶

Hawaiian Airlines: Breakfast

Hawaiian Airlines breakfast box

Breakfast box!

Surprisingly, we actually got breakfast on our flight to Honolulu. The yogurt was actually gluten free, and the silverware wrapped in plastic, so the cross-com risk was minimal. I stayed away from the grapes, granola, and the wrapped onion corn cake thing, just in case.

(The cake smelled really good, though!)

 

ABC Store/Island Market by ABC

Island Country Markets by ABC Stores in Ko'Olina

Taken by Yelper T. Anthony N.

Unfortunately no pictures from me, but the Island Market in Ko’Olina was surprisingly well stocked for cooking at the villa. They stock fresh vegetables, eggs, and steak… While also stocking gluten-free bread, drinks (ok maybe I wouldn’t splurge for a $10 orange juice carton but hey), snacks, and pineapple Dole Whip.

Other ABC Stores also stock gf snacks. They’re all over the place, so it’s a safe spot to stop by for a quick refuel. Safe snacks are marked with a “gluten free” sign.

 

Aulani’s Poolside Food (Off the Hook & Papalua Shave Ice)

Disney’s Aulani resort has a number of on-site restaurants and eateries, including some poolside options that are a tad less expensive.

Unfortunately no pictures of this either, but I got a bomb set of kalua pork tacos in corn tortillas with pineapple salsa and avocado with a side of fruit. The food options I had were burgers with gf buns, tacos, salads, and flatbread. Nothing from the fryer unfortunately, but with that many options it wasn’t at all an issue.

The shaved ice from Papalua is gluten free. I didn’t inquire about getting the condensed milk at the time, but the shaved ice by itself was pretty darn good. 🐠

 

Aulani’s Makahiki Character Breakfast Buffet

 

Character breakfast was a real treat at Disneyland, but I found that Aulani’s character breakfast was just as good. Disneyland’s Mickey waffles win out for being mochiko based, but Aulani won with an eggs benedict — something I never really had a chance to have before. In this buffet, the chef will walk you down the buffet and ask you what you want to eat. Food came directly from the back with allergy sticks on them. It was a really good variety!

The show was also cute, and it was totally worth it. Loved hearing the auntie sing and go through the different routines. We had a visit with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Goofy at our table. 🙂

Aulani’s Makahiki Dinner Buffet

 

Non-character dinner, and that’s OK! My only complaint is that this buffet is totally aimed at the seafood lovers. I got to have a lot of different foods for dinner buffet, which was totally awesome. Same thing as breakfast: chef walked me through the line and asked what I wanted. I’ve never had poke and some of the other foods before, so I got a plate. (When we went to Disneyland’s Storytellers Cafe for dinner buffet, they couldn’t accommodate me at the time and I went for a meal instead. So it was nice to have another buffet style meal.)

Meals I received:

  • Rice, mashed potatoes, prime rib, and fruit
  • Pasta bolognese
  • Poke 🙂
  • Ham & prime rib
  • Sushi
  • Glazed salmon, pork chops, some other beef thing
  • Tapioca pudding w/ mango and fresh fruit on top
  • Pineapple & watermelon

 

Dole Plantation – BBQ Corn

No pictures of this one either, but there’s a stand right outside of the Dole Plantation building that has BBQ corn. I pestered them enough times to figure out that yes, it is gluten free, no, they don’t deal with gluten in the stand, and that they use Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce if you get that corn.

 

What I missed

There were multiple restaurants that I missed in Ko’Olina that were Celiac safe: Ama’Ama in Aulani, Longboards at the Marriott, and one at the Four Seasons. Ama’Ama has a beautiful view of the sunset in the evening, but with the amount of food and leftovers I had it just didn’t make sense to spend more $$$. There were also a few restaurants in Waikiki itself that were Celiac safe and you can find those on Find Me Gluten Free that I also skipped for the above reasons.

 

TLDR

Get a place with a kitchenette just so you’re not spending a lot of money, but otherwise, O’ahu was totally fun and safe for this Celiac sufferer.