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?

 

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.

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.

The Baby-Led Weaning Family Cookbook

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This book will be released on August 2, 2017. I received a copy through NetGalley.

As I am planning on baby-led weaning our son when he’s old enough, I jumped at the chance to read and review this book. Baby-led weaning is basically just placing large pieces of food in front of your child and letting them explore. This book is a fantastic concept, meals that are full of large chunks of food for baby to pick apart and eat, but still tasty enough to serve to the rest of the family.

It starts out with an overview of baby-led weaning with tons of great tips, and then proceeds with dozens of recipes that have components baby can grasp and feed themselves. All of the recipes seem really easy, no more than 4 or 5 steps each. I’ve saved a couple to try later, such as delicious sounding bean burgers.

Overall this is an amazing resource if you want to try baby-led weaning but don’t want to prepare an extra meal for your baby, and still want them to eat well. Some of the recipes I do not think I will be trying however. There are a few stew and soup recipes that while they are full of large pieces of food, I feel like it is way too messy for a baby to eat with their hands. BLW is messy in general, no need to make it more so, at least in my opinion.

Also, some of the recipes involve ingredients that I just wouldn’t normally buy, such as lamb. However, this collection does an amazing job of giving you options so that your baby can try as many different foods as possible. If you try cooking from this book, not only will your baby eat well, but the rest of your family will as well.

This book also reminds you of the foods your baby shouldn’t be eating by noting on the side what parts should be served separately to the rest of the family such as anything too salty, or things to leave out completely such as mayo, which contains uncooked egg.

There is a wide range of recipes to choose from, so any family can benefit from using this book. They’re sure to find something they will like.

Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #58

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.

#58 The Mystery at the Alamo: Right on the heels of their big trip to San Francisco, with no mention of it whatsoever, the kids and their grandfather take a trip to San Antonio to visit the Alamo, because their grandfather has a friend there. As always. Man this guy knows a lot of people. They are unable to take a tour of the Alamo because there’s a movie being shot on the premises, so they go over to watch.

The second they step foot on the set, the director hires the children to be extras, and asks them to recruit another boy as well, 14 year old Antonio, named after the city. The five children meet the cast and crew of the movie and don’t even get a chance to settle in before things start to go wrong.

Jessie is instructed to hand a bouquet of flowers to the leading lady Claire, who immediately starts sneezing because someone added ragweed to the bouquet. Violet identifies the offending plant and it is removed. In their next scene, the steps on the set break as Claire walks down them. Either she wants to be fired so she can return to LA, or someone has it out for her.

There are plenty of suspects, from her understudy who would love to take her part to the leading man who wants more lines. The children are determined to get to the bottom of it.

Things continue to go wrong every day, all geared to make Claire look bad. Finally, a ring is borrowed from the museum to be used in the movie, and it goes missing, resulting in the police being called and the movie in jeopardy of being shut down. The children have their suspicions, so they follow one of the actors, the leading man’s stand-in, to a diner where he discusses getting Claire fired with her agent, so she could go film another movie. Mystery solved.

I have a lot of thoughts on this book. I liked this one growing up because I was born in Texas, and we took a trip to the Alamo after I read it. I was really excited to see the ring featured in the book (I don’t remember if I actually did). I have questions about the movie they’re shooting. Why did they have to film it on location? Is it a fictional movie or a documentary? Because they state that Claire is playing a woman who was at the Alamo, and the man is playing Davy Crockett. But at some points in the movie filming, Claire is giving the children a tour of the Alamo museum and talking about the history. It’s a bit strange.

Also, this cover. First of all, that picture of the boys is going to suck if she’s taking it from that close up, and they’re not even looking at her. And what is up with that camera? This book was published in 1997, and I’ve never seen a modern camera that looks like that, it almost looks like a camcorder. Their grandfather takes the film to be developed in an hour as well, that camera doesn’t look modern enough to be able to do that.