Book Reviews

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It’s time to celebrate – Kansas City finally has its own Trader Joe’s. It was a long wait for many. Thousands of Kansas Citians signed petitions encouraging Trader Joe’s to locate here. Unwilling to wait, some local folks even paid others to make runs to Trader Joe’s in St. Louis.

For years devotees wondered why we were seemingly being ignored. All of that is in the past now, for we have not one but two Trader Joe’s to call our own.

Even though I have never stepped foot inside a Trader’s Joe or raised a glass of Two-Buck Chuck, I couldn’t help but to join in the countdown to July 15th.  As I listened again and again to the recitation of friends’ shopping lists, and as I overheard excited talk emanating from office cubicles about a store like no other store, I knew that something big, something really big, was about to happen to Kansas City.

Radical

Does the American dream contradict with authentic Christianity? David Platt believes so. In pursuing a comfortable life, Christians in America forget to follow the Great Commission in Matthew 28. Having a promising career, 401(k), and a nice suburban home is now more important than doing God’s work.

American churches focus on building a multi-million dollar facility and devising a fancy church program that “revolves around catering to ourselves.” The Church forsakes its first and foremost responsibilities of propagating the gospel and helping the poor near us and around the world. In his latest book, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, Platt raises the following questions:

How many of us are embracing the comforts of suburban America while we turn a deaf ear to inner cities in need of the gospel? How many of us are so settled in the United States that we have never once given serious thought to the possibility that God may call us to live in another country? How often are we willing to give a check to someone else as long as we don’t have to go to the tough places in the world ourselves?

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.

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