Author Archives: Janine Reads

Free Book Giveaway Contest – Comment to WIN!

Another book giveaway from Crowded Earth Kitchen!

 

 

The Glass Kitchen written by Linda Francis Lee Contest ends April 30th To Enter: Comment on any Crowded Earth Kitchen post during April! Each comment counts as one entry! I loved this novel! Carefu…

Source: Free Book Giveaway Contest – Comment to WIN!

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A Cook, A Book, and a FREEBIE for you!

Book giveaway!!

 

Source: A Cook, A Book, and a FREEBIE for you!

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NEW Free Book Giveaway!

Crowded Earth Kitchen

PandoraCover

Pandora’s Lunchbox, by Melanie Warner

Contest Ends February 15th

Here are the easy ways to enter to WIN a hardcover copy of this novel:

1) “LIKE” Crowded Earth Kitchen on Facebook! New LIKES between February 1st – 15th count as an entry.

2) “Follow” @CrowdedEarthKit on Twitter! New followers between February 1st – 15th are automatically entered.

3) Post a comment below! Each post counts as one entry. Feel free to enter every day. [Do you have any recommendations for future book giveaways? Tell us, below!]

4) Reblog this post!

One lucky winner will be contacted when the contest ends!

Review

As teenagers and college students are prone to saying around bites of junk food, “Just, Wow!” Based upon the author’s diverse writing background, including two years as a staff reporter for The New York Times, I was hopeful that Pandora’s Lunchbox would be well written and engaging. As…

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Free Book Giveaways are BACK!

Books books books!

Crowded Earth Kitchen

lemon cakeThe Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, by Aimee Bender

Contest Ends January 31st

Here are the Easy Ways to Enter:

  • Are you a blogger? REBLOG this post to enter!
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Enter as many times as you’d like between January 15th – 31st!

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“My mouth – always so active, alert – could now generally identify forty of fifty states in the product or meat I ate. I had taken to tracking those more distant elements on my plate, and each night, at dinner, a U.S. map would float up in my mind as I chewed and I’d use it to follow the nuances in the parsley sprig, the orange wedge, and the baked potato to Florida, California, and Kansas, respectively…

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Review: How To Bake A Chocolate Soufflé

how-to-bake-a-chocolate-souffle-blue-coverTitle:  How To Bake A Chocolate Soufflé

Author: Carly Ellen Kramer

Publisher:  CEK, 2014


I like to think of myself as something of foodie and a home chef. I have interests in food history, learning about the art of cooking, and advocating for fair distribution of food throughout the world and healthy food choices. I enjoy reading various food blogs and I especially enjoy the blog Crowded Earth Kitchen, as the author’s viewpoints closely mirror my own. I was pleased to hear that the author of CEK was to release her own novel, How To Bake A Chocolate Soufflé. Food and books, my two favorite things – what could be better than a food novel? I posted about my excitement here on Cross Country Reading, and I was thrilled to receive a copy of the book in return.

I will be honest, though. As much as I love food, foodie fiction is a new genre to me.  Usually I stick to cookbooks and chef biographies. The one I read, by author Dana Bate was good, but perhaps a bit too reminiscent of a rom-com for my taste. How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé, however, takes on a much more sophisticated tone. It is really hard not to love. The plot is told through the view of three women, all very different, but who share a past with one another. Between the scenes of love, heartbreak, howling laughter, and lust, Kramer intersperses various recipes — all connected to the book’s plot They appear after the end of a chapter, and do not at all distract from the story or the well rounded characters. The characters are relatable in every way, even the secondary characters are full and written fantastically. I spent most of my time reading How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé next to the fire with a glass of wine; it is a feel-good-page-turner full of fun characters, flirty interactions, and heartwarming moments. I would recommend this book for the laughs and warm tones alone.

Striving to be more than just another feel-good book, Kramer intricately weaves the storyline with relevant commentary on womanhood, the struggle for equality, and the balance between  one’s life and one’s lifework. I find it to be an enjoyable read, and also a poignant look at various challenges what women face in the 21st century. I recommend How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé to fiction lovers aged 16 and up.

Next up: I am back in my food book comfort zone with Who Put The Beef In Wellington?

Posted by: Janine Reads

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Review: A Girl’s Guide To Love And Supper Clubs

Title:  A Girl’s Guide to Love and Supper Clubs Girl's Guide

Author:  Dana Bate

Publisher:  Hyperion, 2013


I won this book months ago from out friends at Crowded Earth Kitchen. Initially, I was thrilled (Yay! Free book!) I happily opened the package when it arrived and set the 394 bound pages proudly on my bookshelf. And there it sat. And sat. And sat some more. I range from a foodie on a bad day to a cookbook obsessed food blog addict on a good day so there isn’t a reason in the world why I shouldn’t be diving into a work of foodie fiction. Why wasn’t I jumping at the chance to devour this book, signed with a personal note to me? from Dana Bate? Well, I have this distaste for “chick-lit”. Take a good look at the cover of A Girl’s Guide to Love and Supper Clubs. Go ahead, drink it all in: a frosted cupcake with a heart shaped cookie on top, the swirly writing of the title, the pink. Romantic Comedies have a place I am sure, though not many find themselves nestled in my bookcase. This book was simply not my style and I had plenty of other books on my list.

Fast forward to last month, when Crowded Earth Kitchen announced the release of a new book by author Carly Ellen Kramer, How To Bake A Chocolate Soufflé. I was pleased to see CEK publish a novel, and naturally I spewed my excitement all over the internet. Then I remembered, I had won a book from Crowded Earth Kitchen several months ago and never read it. Huh. Better get that done before I add another book from Crowded Earth to the pile. So, I dusted it off and dove it. And that is how I came to read, Girl’s Guide.

The verdict? Well, now I know where the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover” came from. I was on page 7 when I got hooked,

I  grab for my wineglass and take a long sip and then, against my better judgment I add “But who knows. Maybe I’ll do something wild someday like start my own catering company.

Sandy blanches. An obvious disappointment.

“Catering?” Martin chuckles, swirling his wine glass by its base. “Surely you can aim a little higher than that.”

“What?!” I exclaimed aloud to my tea mug. Do people really think that way? Cooking for yourself and the people you love is simply the most important thing you do everyday. Food is a source of nutrition, of warmth, of love. It is the human races’ lifeblood. Way to squash a gal’s dream, Sandy and Martin.

I made my way through about half of the book that evening, sipping tea and chortling all the while. That night, my subconscious latched onto the amusing cast of characters and ran with it. I dreamt about Girl’s Guide. If that isn’t an indication of a work of fiction worth a read, I don’t know what is. Overall, Girl’s Guide is a fabulously funny look into what many twenty something young women struggle with – stumbling through the beginnings of a career, finding independence, and struggling with relationship possibilities. The main character, Hannah’s sass, her hilarious mishaps (who hasn’t said something inappropriate at the top of their lungs just as the music stops?), and her passion for food appealed to me on a personal level.  I recommend A Girl’s Guide to Love and Supper Clubs to all of my foodie friends and romantic comedy readers aged fourteen and up.

Dana Bate has wet my appetite for foodie fiction. Next week on CrossCountryReading, How To Bake A Chocolate Soufflé by Carly Ellen Kramer.

Posted By: Janine Reads 

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Review: A Land More Kind Than Home

CashTitle:  A Land More Kind Than Home

Author:  Wiley Cash

Publisher:  William Morrow, HarperCollins, 2012


I took a deep breath while sitting in my apartment living room on the north end of Seattle. I could feel the thick humid air, smell the tobacco fields, and hear the cicadas singing in the summer heat. Never mind that it is autumn and I live in a breezy, sea-salty corner of the Pacific Northwest. Wiley Cash has transported me to the rural south, in his first novel, A Land More Kind Than Home.

With each chapter the readers hears from one of three voices – all characters who reside in a small town in North Carolina, each with their own version of the slow, soft southern drawl. Cash is a native of Western North Carolina, which strongly resonates in his work. The story Cash has woven  with these full southern characters is dark, and slightly haunting. Centered around faith in god and the possibility of miracles, this book aptly explores love, faith, and redemption in a way no other story which I have read has before. I recommend this beautifully written novel to all readers aged 13 and up.

Posted By JanineReads

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A new book for foodie lovers everywhere!

how-to-bake-a-chocolate-souffle-blue-cover1Our friends at Crowded Earth Kitchen made a big announcement today! The author of the popular food blog, Carly Ellen Kramer just published her first book. We can’t wait to get out hands on it here at Cross Country Reading! Click the link below to check out Carly Ellen’s book, How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé.

BIG Announcement – Repost to Win! Carly Ellen has a new book for you!.

 

 

 

 

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Review: The Reason I Jump

Title:  The Reason I Jumpbook-the-reason-i-jump-ftr

Author:  Naoki Higashida

Publisher:  Random House LLC, August 2013

“According to the Center For Disease Control And Prevention, one in 250 births result in autism, meaning that about 1.5 million Americans have some form of the disorder. The Department Of Education suggests that number is climbing, and that in the next decade or so, there could be over 4 million cases in the United States alone.” -Tammy Ruggles in A Brief Overview of Autism 

Autism is often seen as a mysterious disorder with unknown origins. Although the precise cause of autism is unknown, it is believed to be caused by abnormal brain structure or function.  Arguably, autism is disorder which can only be understood in its entirety by those who experience it. For many individuals who have the most profound manifestation of the disorder, however, communication can be a struggle. Individuals with autism have described situations in which it can be painful to have limited control of their body, to not have the “right words” for the situation, or for some to have no words at all.  Communicating all of the details of that which they experience everyday as a part of normative life can extremely challenging.

In The Reason I Jump, thirteen year old Naoki Higashida writes answers to some of the many questions people without autism have about the disorder and those who live with it.  Hisashida, who has a pronounced manifestation of the disorder, has limited verbal communication skills.  He communicates through written word both on the computer or by pointing to letters on a chart, spelling out words, which are written down by a transcriber. The words that Higashida uses to describe his world are candid, direct, and above all, honest. The book ends with a truly moving short story, written by the thirteen year old boy, which pulled at my heart-strings and brought me to tears. The Reason I Jump proves, as author David Mitchell who wrote the book’s introduction pointed out, that empathy and compassion are absolutely felt by those with even extreme forms of autism, despite popular belief.

The Reason I Jump is an eye-opening narrative which has challenged the way I view autism and those who live with autism. A New York Times Bestseller which can be found at bookstores around the world, this book will change the way the world sees individuals with disabilities. I strongly recommend The Reason I Jump for all readers aged 10 and up.

I would like to extend a very special thank you to my friend, Kiva, for gifting this book to me and reigniting the blogger in me.

Posted by: Janine Reads

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Review & Summary: The Terrorist

Title:  The Terroristindex

Author:  Caroline B Cooney

Publisher:  Open Road Young Readers, reprint 2012

Genre:  Young Adult Fiction

 

The writer / blogger in me knows a simple truth–typos happen. Anyone who has a smart phone these days knows what “autocorrect” is, and they also know how un-helpful it can be at times. I think that we can all forgive the occasional typo, even in a published novel. I for one, pride myself when I find typos, giving myself a little pat on the back for having such an “editor eye”. All of that being said, there is a line that can be crossed where even I am left so annoyed that I cannot finish the book. The 2012 Open Road reprint of The Terrorist by Caroline B Cooney has crossed that line. There were so many typographical errors and misused words that I stopped counting, and reading. It was several weeks before I could finally pick the book back up and finish it.

I wish that I could say that the poor editing was the only problem with the book and that The Terrorist would be a poignant work of fiction worth placing on any young adults bookshelf– but that is simply not the case. The story begins with the death of a boisterous young American boy in England, an act of terrorism which leaves the book’s characters in a state of fear and panic. The boy’s sister, Laura, takes it upon herself to find the course of the act-and to find revenge as well. My problem with this part of the story is that it is a completely realistic reaction for a teenager. If this teenager were smart and savvy she may be able to find some answers. Laura, however, is neither of those things. She is a stereotypically ignorant and self-important American teenager. She’s a two-dimensional character who acts in accordance to a very bad stereotype, yet has smart and loving international friends who forgive her faults, including her blatant racism.

While Laura is busy interrogating her devoted friends about bombs and religion, she finds herself in the midst of a crisis for her schoolmate, Jehran. Jehran’s family is forcing her into an arranged marriage, and her only means of escape is to use Laura’s deceased brother’s passport to escape to America. Luckily, Jehran, a petit middle eastern beauty, looks just like Laura’s loud and boisterous younger brother. A well placed base-ball cap is all she needed. Far fetched, but okay.

Laura and Jehran head to the airport with two tickets they purchased in cash (also far-fetched, but okay). While they are there her friends follow with a teacher in tow to stop them. The airport scene is the most exciting part of the entire book, though I do not think the preceding 100+ pages are worth it. Cooney made a valiant attempt at writing a book that could be a powerful look at the world of international terrorism and how it affects teenagers everywhere. Unfortunately, she fell flat. My advice to Miss Cooney? Find a new editor.

Posted by: Janine Reads

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