Book Reviews

Visit our Recommended Reading page in the Kids section for reviews of children's books >

Move over, Moms! With so many tasty recipes, beautiful photos, and easy-to-follow directions, Teen Cuisine by Matthew Locricchio will inspire young adults to head for the kitchen and start cooking like they were aspiring gourmet chefs.

With a focus on organic, made-from-scratch dishes, Teen Cuisine is perfect for the teenager who is serious about learning to cook. The recipes do not rely on prepackaged or canned items thrown together for a convenient, but less than nutritious, meal. Instead, the book concentrates on creating savory meals with fresh, easy-to-find, inexpensive ingredients. 

Even better, the more than 50 flavorful dishes are broken down into small, easy steps with comfort-food favorites like Max Mac and Cheese and Chicken Pot Pie along with pizza recipes from three different regions of the United States. Teen Cuisine’s menu also includes delicious breakfast, snack, soup, salad, sandwich, side dish and dessert offerings. And for the more inexperienced teen cooks, there are also sections about kitchen safety and essentials, culinary equipment and utensils, and “chef tips” on many pages.

Anthology of Rap

What do hip-hop artists Common and Chuck D share with two English professors at Yale? They’ve all worked together to compile The Anthology of Rap, the first major publication celebrating the growth of hip-hop from a burgeoning underground music in the South Bronx to an influential, billion-dollar music industry traversing languages and cultures across the globe.

As Matt Labash of the Wall Street Journal points out in his review of the Anthology: for most people, five living rappers are easily more nameable than five living poets. Hip-hop’s larger-than-life MCs have become the poets of popular culture and modern life, influencing an entire generation of young people’s tastes in music, fashion, and culture.

Fire

This heat wave is no joke. The National Weather Service has placed KC under an excessive-heat warning through this weekend, and the city is encouraging area residents to take solace in cooling centers, such as public libraries. All this begs the eternal (and infernal) question, What to read?

Here are 10 books, both fiction and non-, that we found especially appropriate for these sweltering summer climes.

Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford – Can’t stand the heat? Visit Buford’s kitchen.

Into the Inferno by Earl Emerson – Seattle firefighter investigates a mysterious illness that has decimated his department.

California Fire & Life by Don Winslow – Claims adjuster investigates a series of arsons.

Robber Bride

It’s easy to appreciate fiction’s dedicated heroines. Who doesn’t admire Jane Eyre or Miss Jane Pittman?  Neither is it difficult to muster animosity for callous villainesses such as Lady Macbeth or Madame DeFarge.

But what about those characters who straddle the line by stirring up feelings of love, hate and everything in between?

We know we shouldn’t ape their actions, but we admire their chutzpah. Their battle cries are a mixture of “All be damned” and “So be it” — an intoxicating blend of challenge and acceptance, whether they’re Carrie Bradshaw in pursuit of the perfect pair of shoes or Medea in pursuit of the perfect revenge.

It’s not the ramifications of their actions we admire – no one could endorse spending the whole paycheck on Ferragamos or Medea’s concept of sole custody. It’s the dedication to a vision these women see as an integral part of themselves, no matter how ill-advised. And they manage to make us love them for it, even as we disapprove.

It can happen at any age and any time. It’s the engulfing panic that maybe you chose the wrong career. Maybe you committed to the wrong person. Maybe you made all the wrong decisions. Maybe you’re living the wrong life.

For any woman who has wondered “what if” during her life, here are stories of other women who wondered, who dared, who tapped unknown reservoirs of strength and discovered the right person was actually living the right life all along.

Drinking the Rain, Alix Kates Shulman

For Alix Kates Shulman, it happened in the early Eighties. She felt herself slipping away in this unfamiliar world. Drinking the Rain is her enticing memoir of self-rediscovery during a summer spent on a remote Maine island. Schulman revels in her newfound independence as she collects rain water to drink, gathers mussels from a tide pool for dinner, and watches the ocean tides. Her solitary summer reveals numerous mini-miracles of life.

The Pull of the Moon, Elizabeth Berg

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