Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #65

Welcome to my weekly throwback book review! Each week I’ll be rereading and reviewing one or two books from my childhood. I was a huge reader as a child and these books shaped my life. I couldn’t possibly get rid of them, so I still have a large collection that I am sharing with all of you in the form of reviews.

#65 The Cereal Box Mystery: It’s just a normal day in Greenfield. The kids are out running errands, because apparently their housekeeper can’t go to the grocery store so she sends four kids with bikes to get their food. Benny is obsessed with a sugary cereal ‘Silver Frosted Stars’ and the stars that come inside the box, because if he collects enough of them, he can get a detective’s badge. So the kids buy three boxes and Benny opens one right away to start looking.

But we can’t just have a normal day in Greenfield. After they get the groceries, they see a thief running out of the local jewelry store who knocks their bikes over. He stole a very valuable cabochon ruby jewelry set. There are three witnesses to the crime: the store owner, a man looking for an engagement ring, and a woman who tries to stop the thief at the door. With no leads, the kids are on the case.

That night, the Alden’s home is broken into, and the only thing missing is one of the boxes of Frosted Silver Stars. When everyone has a big bowl of it in the morning from the opened box, Benny finds a special prize: a couple of pretty rings which he gives to his sisters. I’m sure you can see where this is going.

The kids investigate the case of the missing jewelry while they continue to be targeted at home by someone going through their trash, and grabbing another box of Frosted Silver Stars from their boxcar. They finally put two and two together and realize that Violet’s ring is a cabochon ruby, the thief slipped it into the cereal box when he ran from the store, and has been trying to steal it back ever since. But where’s the rest of the set?

It turns out that the woman who tried to stop the thief is actually a black belt in karate, so not only did she not stop him as she could have, they deduce that he slipped the jewelry to her. The kids set up a trap with the police to catch the two thieves red handed and save the day again. And Benny finds enough stars to get his detective badge.

I mostly remembered this one, it’s a pretty decent mystery as far as kids solving mysteries go. One thing I just don’t understand is why the thieves kept grabbing any box of cereal they could find. He slipped it into an open box but then stole a new sealed box. So he realized exactly what brand of cereal he stashed it in, but not the fact that it was already opened? Also, immediately following the robbery the woman accomplice offered to throw away the opened box for them, thinking it was damaged. It isn’t clear if she knew at that point that is where he stashed it. That would have been a very different story if the box ended up in the trash without anyone finding the ring.

I Love My Wok by Nicola Graimes

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This book will be released on August 15, 2017. I received a copy through NetGalley.

If you own a wok or are just interested in cooking Asian food, this is an amazing resource for you. These are all recipes you can use your wok for, and it’s not just stir fry! The recipes are divided into several different categories such as appetizers, soups, salads, meats and more.

For the most part, these recipes look super easy, and while they do contain some traditional Asian ingredients, they are mostly food that you might already buy on a regular basis (at least I do). They’re mostly super healthy and feature a lot of different vegetables. One really unique sounding recipe is a Turkey and Mango Stir Fry.

Most of the recipes are accompanied by bright, delicious-looking pictures as well. I highly recommend this book if you’re looking to experiment a bit more with your cooking. I plan on trying the Miso & Tofu Broth as well as the Vegetable Ramen at some point in the future.

Let me know what you think, are you interested in this book? Do you love cooking with your wok? Have you ever tried cooking traditional Asian food before?

 

Weekly Meal Plan: August 13 – 19

New computer, yay! I didn’t lose any of my files after my computer got fried, thank goodness. Now it’s back to work and back to normal.

A little over six weeks to my due date! I am so ready to get him out of here. Not only am I just excited to start the next part of our lives, but I’m just so uncomfortable. Turning over in bed is like doing exercise. I could also do without his feet trying to kick through the one spot on my bump that hurts. But I suppose he can stay in there until the baby shower at least. We get to see him again tomorrow when I go for a second ultrasound finally.

What we’re eating this week:

Easy One-Pot Lasagna — I have some leftover ricotta cheese from last week I need to use up, and this sounds like a great recipe.

Sweet and Sour Stir Fry — My best friend is doing me a huge favor by taking me to my ultrasound appointment tomorrow, so I’m going to make this stir fry vegan for her. I’m going to make it with tofu and sub out the chicken stock for vegetable stock.

Salt and Pepper Pork Chops — This is a nice simple meat dish that I’m going to serve with baked potatoes.

Lemon, Garlic and Thyme Drumsticks — Another simple meat dish with mashed potatoes.

Fried Cabbage and Sausage — This is a week of using up things I already have, I have half of a head of cabbage from last week that needs using up, as much as my husband isn’t going to like it.

Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #64

Welcome to my weekly throwback book review! Each week I’ll be rereading and reviewing one or two books from my childhood. I was a huge reader as a child and these books shaped my life. I couldn’t possibly get rid of them, so I still have a large collection that I am sharing with all of you in the form of reviews.

What We Missed: The Soccer Mystery, The Growling Bear Mystery, The Mystery of the Lake Monster, and The Mystery at Peacock Hall Apparently the Aldens join a soccer team, visit Yellowstone, stay in a mountain lodge, and help yet another cousin with a mystery.

#64 The Black Pearl Mystery: In the bizarre perpetual summer that is their lives, the Alden kids are off on another vacation, this time to Hawaii. No lounging on beaches for them however, as they have another cousin in need of their help. Cousin Mary owns a pineapple plantation that is in dire need of business help. So the Aldens go with their grandfather in order to see how they can help, along with their other cousin Soo Lee, without her adoptive parents. Grandfather immediately leaves for another island… to take business meetings? It’s not quite clear. But he leaves the kids alone in Hawaii with his cousin where they are put to work picking pineapples.

No Boxcar Children book is complete without a cast of sneaky, sketchy characters. They first meet Mary’s manager, Joseph, who is friendly at first but becomes increasingly standoffish over the course of the book. There’s also the lady who runs another large plantation and a pineapple cannery, who wants to put Mary out of business. Lastly, there’s a strange couple who stay on the plantation with them, and always seem to be around when you don’t expect them. They claim to be looking at farms to purchase in the area, but do a poor job of actually pretending to do it.

The children learn of a story about a legendary black pearl that makes everyone clam up when they ask about it. Of course, this makes them want to know even more. They finally learn the story when they overhear Joseph telling the story to his grandchildren. Apparently it was a very valuable black pearl that was found, but brought bad luck to anyone who possessed it. It was then placed back into the ocean for five hundred moons, when it would then lose all of its bad luck. Apparently this legend happened approximately five hundred moons ago.

The Aldens go snorkeling just for fun, but they keep being warned away from the water, with their equipment getting stolen and false reports of shark warnings. It seems someone wants to keep them from looking for the pearl. They see something silvery in a cave underwater but are unable to reach it.

In the end, Joseph shows them a box containing a large black pearl. He had found it while diving where the children had been snorkeling and saw their treasure. The cannery woman claims the pearl as hers since it was found close to her property; she’d hired divers to find the pearl and tell everyone else that there were sharks. The mysterious couple had also been diving for the pearl, and they were the ones to steal the children’s snorkels.

Apparently Joseph had been the one in the legend to find the pearl in the first place, and he had given it to Mary’s husband but the bad luck had continued so it was placed back into the ocean. Mary and Joseph decided together to use the proceeds from the black pearl to help out the plantation.

I don’t have much to say about this one. It was a nice safe mystery where the kids didn’t actually do much sleuthing for once. All they wanted to do was enjoy Hawaii and help out with the plantation, and they ended up helping find the pearl anyway. It was one of the newer ones/last ones I bought, and I didn’t remember much about it at all. Overall, pretty forgettable.

The Housewife Assassin’s Handbook by Josie Brown

25253781I downloaded this book during an ebook sale quite a while ago and just now got around to reading it. I was not compensated for this review in any way.

Donna is just your typical housewife, going into labor with her third child, when she is told her husband has been killed. Following that shock is the news that he was a secret spy on an important mission. Donna is in need of a job when her husband’s former boss offers to have her trained for the same position. So she starts her double life: by day she’s a soccer mom, by night she’s out getting information and killing people.

Finally, she gets the news: they’re closing in on the group who had her husband killed. And she wants revenge. But who can she really trust?

Just when you think you know where this story is going, it twists… then twists again. I’ve always been good at guessing where a book is going to end up, and I love when they surprise me. This book will keep you guessing right to the end. There’s a whole series of books, no surprise there, but this book doesn’t leave a terrible cliffhanger to leave off on. It’s a good opportunity to continue the story with characters you like if you want to.

Weekly Meal Plan: August 6 – 12

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So… my computer is dead. On Friday we had a big thunderstorm and something got struck by lightning. When I returned to my computer, it was off and wouldn’t turn back on. Our internet was also dead because our modem was fried, along with some other electronics. I’m writing this on a really crappy laptop that barely does anything and lags terribly if I try to do more than one thing at a time. Here’s hoping we can replace my computer soon and that I didn’t lose all of my files.

That’s pretty much the biggest news I have. Baby is still doing well, counting down to the baby shower and my due date. Everything looks like it’s going perfectly so far, fingers crossed. He’s super active still, he spent all day today kicking and moving and trying to push his way out through my stomach.

What we’re eating this week:

Ground Turkey and Cabbage Stir Fry (pictured): Husband is not a fan of this as he doesn’t like cabbage, but I think it’s really delicious, and so easy!

Smoked Sausage and Potatoes: I haven’t made this in a while but I’m so glad I remembered it! I adore this recipe.

Mushroom Ricotta Pasta: This is my new recipe of the week, it sounds so good. I’m going to add some spinach for extra nutrition, and because spinach goes amazing with both ricotta and mushrooms.

Shrimp, Spinach and Rice: Such a classic, I love this. It’s so simple yet tastes amazing.

Paprika Chicken: This might be another new recipe, I can’t remember if I’ve made it before. It sounds good though, and I’m going to serve it with baked potatoes.

Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #59

Welcome to my weekly throwback book review! Each week I’ll be rereading and reviewing one or two books from my childhood. I was a huge reader as a child and these books shaped my life. I couldn’t possibly get rid of them, so I still have a large collection that I am sharing with all of you in the form of reviews.

#59 The Outer Space Mystery: Grandfather is assisting with a science conference at a small college, so of course the kids tag along. He’s friends with the president of the college, because of course he is, who asked him to moderate the conference. I don’t think these kids are ever going to get to college if they never go to school, which is what it seems like.

Astronomy is big at this school as they have a nice fancy observatory, which the kids are instantly fascinated by. They meet a student Mark who has a secret project he’s working on, along with another student who is always around to steal his thunder.

As is the case with these books, strange things start happening. Someone seems to be sabotaging Mark and his project. His notes go missing about the same time as a girl goes missing. Rachel had been acting strangely for a while, she worked as a waitress at the college and seemed overly nervous. She finally calls and says she’s staying with her grandparents and is alright, so people give up the search.

Mark presses on without his notes and finishes up the project, but discovers that someone switched out his papers for blank sheets. The kids suspect Eugene, his rival, and follow him to an abandoned cabin where they find Rachel, and Mark’s missing project. Eugene paid her to rewrite it so he could pass it off as his work.

Knowing he’s been found out, Eugene takes off, and Rachel goes with the kids to come clean. Mark gets to deliver his project on the fact that he found a new asteroid, which he wants to name after the Aldens.

I did not remember this book at all. I didn’t want Rachel to be guilty because it seems in these books that the most obvious suspect is never the right one, but this time it was. Overall, this one was pretty meh. We’re getting close to the end of the books I own and I’m almost ready for it.