I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
I see that I haven't reviewed this on Booklikes yet, so in honor of the dinner I just had (soup and a grilled cheese sandwich made with Linda's Easy Potato Bread from this book), I'll knock something out right now.
This has been my go-to bread machine book since I bought my bread machine (a Breadman Pro) several years ago. The recipes are easy to follow, and each one gives you the ingredients you'd use for a 1-lb, 1.5-lb, or 2-lb loaf setting, plus Crust and Bake Cycle settings if your machine has those. Each recipe also includes nutritional information, although I'm not sure how useful it is considering that there's no information about slice thickness (and I'm terrible at slicing bread evenly, even with my electric knife).
The book begins with a few tips for baking the perfect loaf, which I found helpful when I first bought my machine. After that, the book is divided into sections for white breads, whole-grain breads, vegetable breads, fruit breads, dinner rolls, sweet rolls, breads, and coffee cakes, and specialty breads. I used to make a different kind of bread each week but have now settled on a few tried and true favorites. Of the one or two dozen recipes I've tried, only one, a rye bread (I can't recall which one), has ever failed to turn out well for reasons I couldn't identify. With the other ones, I get perfect results if I just watch the dough during the first ten minutes or so of the knead cycle and either add more flour if it's smearing or more liquid if it's too dry and crumbly.
My favorite recipes, the ones I still make even though my bread machine has lost its "new kitchen toy" shine:
- Egg Bread - This one rises very high. The 2-lb loaf gets tall enough to press against the lid of the machine. Still, it's a wonderful bread and perfect for French toast.
- Linda's Easy Potato Bread - I love using this bread for sandwiches of all types. It holds together nicely while spreading peanut butter, butter, or whatever on it, and I recently discovered that it works amazingly for grilled cheese sandwiches. It uses instant potato flakes rather than mashed cooked potatoes, which appeals to my lazy side.
- Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Rolls - You make these with the Dough setting and then bake them in the oven. I like this particular recipe because cutting and shaping the rolls goes pretty quickly and easily.
- Irene's Bavarian Coffee Cake - I have family in Bavaria and don't recall them ever making anything that tasted like this coffee cake, but that doesn't make it any less tasty. This is another one you make with the Dough setting and then bake in the oven.
- Portuguese Sweet Bread - This is a slightly sweet, slightly lemon-flavored bread that's snail-shaped and very pretty, perfect for gifting. It's great when served with coffee or tea. Again, it's made with the Dough setting and then baked in the oven. I like to do the large recipe, which makes two snail-shaped loaves - one I can give to someone and one I can keep for myself.
- Sally Lunn Bread - This is the one sweet bread on this list that's baked in the bread machine. I brought it to work once and people thought it was pound cake. It slices beautifully, even if you don't have an electric knife.
- Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns - Okay, so I'm terrible at making mine a uniform size, but I still like them.
One other thing I should mention is that the fat used in most of these recipes is butter or margarine - I've seen at least one negative review that complained about this, although it isn't really a problem for me. According to the introduction, you should be able to substitute an oil of your choice, although I've never tried this and don't know what the results are like.
All in all, I highly recommend this book if you're looking for recipes for your bread machine beyond what's included in your manual.
"'I don't stay after I set out dinner,' Mrs. Dudley went on. 'Not after it begins to get dark. I leave before dark comes.'
'I know,' Eleanor said.
'We live over in the town, six miles away.'
'Yes,' Eleanor said, remembering Hillsdale.
'So there won't be anyone around if you need help.'
'We couldn't even hear you, in the night.'
'I don't suppose--'
'No one could. No one lives any nearer than the town. No one else will come any nearer than that.'
'I know,' Eleanor said tiredly.
'In the night,' Mrs. Dudley said, and smiled outright. 'In the dark,' she said, and closed the door behind her.
Eleanor almost giggled, thinking of herself calling, 'Oh, Mrs. Dudley, I need your help in the dark,' and then she shivered." (27-28)
Oh, Mrs. Dudley seems like such a wonderful person. She might as well carry around a neon sign that says YOU'RE ALL GOING TO DIE IN THE DARK AND NO ONE WILL HELP YOU HAHAHA.
Right now there's a semi-love triangle involving Lindsey, Sully, and this new guy, Edmund. I can't help it, every time Edmund's on-page I start wondering whether he's the murderer. He hasn't done or said anything suspicious, other than being a new character who Lindsey happens to find attractive.
I've tried a bit of the sample and the narrator doesn't really appeal to me, but I'm still considering it.
This has been a long week. It'll be nice to get a break from slogging through my self-evaluation and reading thesis and dissertation abstracts (my favorite one so far: an analysis of the companions in Doctor Who).
My weekend plans include squeezing out a few more reviews and hopefully finishing Due or Die. My current review backlog:
- Final Fantasy XIV: Dad of Light TV miniseries(I have mixed feelings)
- Bingo Love graphic novel
- And Then There Were None audiobook
- Kenka Bancho Otome, Vol. 1 (hmm, more mixed feelings - mostly fun, but I haven't decided yet whether it's worth continuing to buy)
- Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann
- Nine Princes in Amber audiobook
- The Murder of Roger Ackroyd audiobook
- Black Butler: The Book of Murder anime OVA (this worked better in manga form)
Ugh, I'm even more behind than I thought.
Also, my town's movie theater is, amazingly, participating in Ghibli Fest and will be showing The Cat Returns. It's been so long since I last saw it that I can't recall what it's about or whether I liked it, but there's a dapper cat so of course I'm going.
The first omnibus volume introduced Hikage, Hinata, and Teru. Hikage starts off practically invisible to everyone around her except Hinata and Teru. In the first volume, we learned that Hinata has a crush on Hikage. Hinata's jealous fans - one girl in particular - start bullying Hikage for spending too much time with him. In the end she's able to stand up to them.
Whereas the first omnibus volume was focused more on Hikage and her efforts to make friends, this omnibus volume was focused more on Hinata and Teru and the mystery of Black Rabbit's identity. Hikage is convinced that Hinata is Black Rabbit, a possibility that's initially appealing but then fills her with horror and embarrassment. Black Rabbit is her kindest and most supportive online friend. If Hinata is Black Rabbit, that could mean that her "friend" was really laughing about her behind her back as he was encouraging her to talk to him more. Hinata keeps denying that he's Black Rabbit, but he's clearly hiding something.
Things become even more difficult for Hikage when Teru realizes that he has a crush on Hikage too and the two best friends, Hinata and Teru, ask her to choose between them. While Hikage tries to figure out what to do, the wedge between Hinata and Teru starts to tear their entire class in two.
I felt so-so about the first omnibus volume, but since this series is so short I felt like I should finish it anyway. This final omnibus had some parts I liked and some I loathed.
I liked the closer look at Hinata and Teru's friendship. Now that I know Black Rabbit's secret (which I didn't clue into while reading the first volume but figured out a few pages into this one), I have a different perspective on what was going on between Hinata and Teru in the first half of the series. The first half of this volume, when Hinata and Teru were still actively trying to make sure that whatever each of them might be feeling for Hikage didn't hurt their friendship, was fine. Unfortunately, it fell apart when the love triangle reared its ugly head.
I hated the love triangle. Once Teru realized that he was in love with Hikage, his and Hinata's relationship devolved into a competition over Hikage. Teru was a liar, too - he'd say that he didn't want to make things difficult for Hikage, but then he'd explicitly ask her to choose between him and Hinata. Since Hinata and Teru's friendship turned out to be the glue that held the entire class together, asking Hinata to choose meant she'd also be responsible for the class group breaking in half, a fact that her fellow classmates picked up on right away (and almost piled on her for). Hikage found herself at risk of not only losing her budding romantic relationship and all her friendships and budding friendships, all because of this stupid love triangle.
The love triangle resolved itself less painfully for the characters than I expected, but that was mostly because Toyama allowed the tension between Hinata and Teru to just sort of magically evaporate. Some aspects of the love triangle never quite went away, despite Hikage making her choice, which left me wondering whether the issue had really been resolved. I suppose it could morph into an inside joke shared by all three of the characters...
In addition to the love triangle, I also hated that the bullying storyline came back, with the exact same bully. Even though her previous plans resulted in her own public humiliation, Aya decided to jump back into the fray with new plans...that could easily be traced back to her and used to humiliate her a second time. Because this is supposed to be fluffy shojo starring a super-sweet heroine, instead of humiliation Aya got an apology, a smile, and an encouraging speech.
Meanwhile, I'm the horrible person who thinks that there was nothing for Hikage to apologize for. Aya was in the wrong for thinking that Hinata was supposed to be some kind of untouchable idol and trying to keep others away from him. She was also in the wrong for bullying Hikage for getting close to him. She made it worse by impersonating several people in the love triangle to further screw up everyone's relationships, all so she could win over a guy who'd already made it clear he wasn't interested in her.
On the plus side, I was glad that Hikage's online relationships didn't quite work out the way I originally thought they were going to. It wasn't as neat and tidy as "Black Rabbit is this person from Hikage's offline life and Mega Pig is that person," and I liked the recognition that the way people interact with others online might not always match how they interact with them in person. So there's that. (And yes, characters could use their flip phones to post comments on Hikage's blog. They do it on-page in this volume, answering the question I had back while I was reading the first volume.)
I didn't hate this series, but this half of it was definitely weaker than the first half, and the first half was mediocre. Parts of the series were stronger than I expected, but the bullying storyline and the love triangle were both annoying. If ever there was a series that I wish had completely ditched its romance aspect and just focused on friendship, it's this one. I was more than a bit horrified when Hikage examined her feelings for Hinata and Teru and began to lean towards the "romantic relationships are more important than friendships" answer. The series didn't quite work out that way, but I still wasn't a fan of how Toyama handled things.
The volume includes several author sidebars featuring a not-particularly-interesting comic series starring Mega Pig (the actual cartoon animal) and Mahi (the sunflower character), character profiles for Hikage, Hinata, and Teru, a short comic starring fourth-grade Hinata and Teru, a few pages of humorous short comics, and a few pages of translator's notes. There's also a bonus comic starring Mega Pig (his offline self), which was kind of cute and tied up a few loose ends from the main series.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
I haven't been getting through this very quickly - I keep having to work on things that require too much of my attention for audiobook listening to be possible.
I've just gotten to the part where Peter has set up his nice new relaxation spot, complete with fabulous technology (ooh, a TV...with cable), only to have Nightingale stop by. Nearly everyone at Peter's little party works for Nightingale, and here's Nightingale casually trying to join in.
Amazon keeps offering me things to renew my Audible membership. The last offer I can recall was a free Echo Dot, which didn't excite me much. Now I'm being offered two free months (1 free audiobook per month) and a $10 Amazon gift card. I may go for it, considering it's still a "cancel anytime you'd like" deal.
I just learned that Sandhya Menon will have a new book coming out soon, called From Twinkle, With Love.
And I just saw this tweet about the making of the photograph on the back of When Dimple Met Rishi (I hope this displays properly...):
Leslie asks Peter whether he should be telling her all this stuff about magic and magical beings and Peter says "I don't see why not. Nightingale's never told me not to."
Except here's the thing: I'm pretty sure it was part of Peter's oath before becoming Nightingale's apprentice that he wasn't supposed to tell anyone about this stuff. It was a little vague - I interpreted it as "don't tell anyone who isn't part of our secret magical club," although I suppose it could have been interpreted as "don't tell anyone who isn't also part of the police." Either way, I don't think Peter should have assumed that he was allowed to tell Leslie all of this.
It's a moot point, since Nightingale never gets upset with Peter about this, but it's a detail that bugs me.
I know Ms. Cole is aggravating, but I'm getting a little tired of the physical descriptions of her in this book. So far we have this:
"Instead of softening her mannish features, however, the pastel colors seemed to wash out the skin tone on her portly person, leaving her looking a bit jaundiced." (20-21)
"Today was a gray day for Ms. Cole. It was an unfortunate choice, given that her broad frame already lent her the appearance of a large land mammal - the gray just narrowed down the species." (62)
Ugh, please stop. Just stop.
Lindsey used to be an archivist at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale until about six months ago, when she was laid off. She's now the director of the Briar Creek Library. She's just starting to feel more comfortable with small town life and her new position. It helps that one of her employees, Beth, is also her friend from back when they were both getting their library science degrees.
Beth is a children's librarian who's been working on a children's book of her own for several years. Lindsey thinks Beth should show her work to a New York editor who's vacationing in Briar Creek, but Beth is hesitant - her horrible boyfriend, Rick, keeps telling her it isn't good enough and needs a lot more work. Since he's a famous author whose first book won the Caldecott Medal, he'd know, right? When Beth tells Rick about her plans to meet with the editor, things rapidly sour between them. They break up, but the situation only gets worse after Beth hears what the editor has to say. She attempts to go to Rick's island and give him a piece of her mind, only to discover that he's been murdered. Unfortunately, Chief Daniels seems to consider Beth his top suspect.
A coworker of mine highly recommend this series to me. She basically inhaled what's been published in the series so far. She enjoyed the library aspects, the romance with Sully (she mentioned the love triangle that pops up in a later book, so I already know to expect that), and the fact that Lindsey is fairly similar in age to her (and me, too!).
My feelings about this book are more measured, but I enjoyed it too. The library aspects were great, even though there were a few things that made me raise an eyebrow. The odds of Lindsey getting an archivist job at Yale right out of library school seemed incredibly slim, based on what my job hunt 9 or 10 years ago was like. Then again, this was published in 2011, so maybe such a thing would have been more likely in the early 2000s. I also raised an eyebrow at the way Lindsey handled Beth's situation. I couldn't help but wonder if she'd have been as quick to promise Ms. Cole, aka "the lemon," she wouldn't suspend her if she had been the one accused of murder. Having your best friend as one of your employees can mess with your judgment.
That said, most of the details were great, like the random phone call from a vendor selling a database the library neither needed nor could afford, the couple arguing over which movie to check out right before closing time, and Lindsey's "crafternoons" idea. I can add this to my short list of books that star librarians who actually do occasional on-page library work.
The mystery itself was good, with a few twists I absolutely did not expect. I did wonder about the bit where Lindsey and Beth left town to do some investigating on their own. Would Beth have been allowed to leave like that? Detective Trimble seemed more open to other possibilities, but Chief Daniels certainly considered her a suspect.
I'm looking forward to more developments in the romance between Lindsey and Sully, although I'm already dreading the love triangle. Sully seems like a great guy, and I could think of a lot of things that could complicate his and Lindsey's relationship without a love triangle being added to the mix. For example, Lindsey is still dealing with the hurt and betrayal of discovering that her fiance was cheating on her, which unfortunately happened at around the same time she was laid off.
All in all, this was an enjoyable and quick read. I definitely plan on reading the next book. In fact, I already have a copy in via interlibrary loan.
At the end of the book there are several extras, including "The Briar Creek Library Guide to Crafternoons," a reader's guide for The Last Time I Saw Paris by Lynn Sheene, a knitting pattern for the rolled hat Lindsey made (which was originally supposed to be a sock), a recipe for Sully's hot chocolate, and a recipe for Mary's clam chowder. The crafternoons guide could come in handy for public librarians looking for adult programming ideas.
For my part, the only extra I've used is the recipe for Sully's hot chocolate, which I've now made several times (with powdered cinnamon instead of sticks, and no nutmeg). I disagree with Lindsey's assessment that it isn't too sweet - after my first time making it, I cut the sugar back by half. I suggest halving the recipe if you just want to make enough hot chocolate for yourself. It's a very rich drink, and halving it makes enough for one good-sized mug.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
The last time I read and reviewed this book was back in 2010, when my posts included spoiler-filled synopses that were as long or longer than the reviews themselves. I figured that a new review was in order, especially since my opinion of this book has improved.
After Balsa, a female bodyguard, rescues young Prince Chagum from drowning, she finds herself being roped into being his protector. Chagum is believed to be possessed by the same creature that once caused a terrible drought. It's thought that the drought will be averted if Chagum is killed, so the Mikado himself has ordered several assassination attempts against him. Chagum's mother, the Second Queen, enlists Balsa's help to save him.
While Balsa attempts to hide Chagum and keep him safe from his pursuers, she also seeks out several friends in the hope of figuring out what's going on so that she can somehow both save Chagum's life and prevent the drought.
The first time I read this book was, I think, too soon after having seen the anime. They're both good, but the time I spent noting similarities and differences to the anime made it hard to judge the book on its own merits (yes, I know the book came first, but my first exposure to the story was the anime).
Balsa makes me wish more than the first two books in this series had been translated into English. She's a great character - an experienced and talented warrior with an intriguing past. In general, the book had some nice gender role reversal, with its female stoic warrior character and male healer interested in the spirit world. There was a hint of potential romance between Balsa and Tanda, the healer, but it was handled in a very low-drama way. Tanda was a little frustrated at Balsa's lack of desire to settle down, but it never got to the point of wrecking their friendship.
The "found family" aspect involving Balsa, Tanda, and Chagum was nice. I enjoyed that restful period of the story before everybody had to worry about Chagum's safety again, and it was nice to see Chagum becoming more comfortable and confident in his life as a commoner.
One of the things I really liked about this book was the way the setting and its history mattered. This was very much a story about how knowledge is lost or changed over time. Near the beginning of the book, readers get the history of how New Yogo was founded, but it's entirely from the perspective of the Yogoese, who are currently the area's dominant ethnic group. Later on, readers get more sides of the story - the secret history that only the Star Readers know (which is, again, Yogoese history) and Yakoo stories.
The Yakoo were the people who originally lived in the area where New Yogo was founded. (Supposedly they fled out of fear when the Yogoese peacefully tried to contact them, and I think the Yakoo side of the story agreed with this or at least didn't refute it, but I don't buy it.) They'd lost much of their culture and traditions, and what was left was sometimes mixed with Yogoese culture to an uncertain degree. It gave me shivers to think how close everyone came to not having the knowledge they needed during the chase at the end of the book.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed rereading this. I haven't read the next book in the series yet, but I'm now looking forward to it even more.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
Dimple Shah has a plan: she's going to attend Insomnia Con and win the grand prize with her app idea, and then she's going to go to Stanford and become an amazing web developer like her idol, Jenny Lindt. She has no desire to get married, despite her parents' wish that she find herself the Ideal Indian Husband.
Rishi Patel is looking forward to meeting his future wife, Dimple Shah, at Insomnia Con. Both his parents and her parents think it's a good match, and Rishi is a devoted son who genuinely likes the idea of an arranged marriage. He has romantic visions of his marriage working out just as wonderfully as his parents' marriage. Sure, his mom beat his dad with an umbrella when they first met because he'd taken her seat on the bus, but they'd eventually fallen in love. Unfortunately, what Rishi doesn't realize is that no one has told Dimple about him.
Oh, this was lovely. So cute and fun.
The scene pictured on the back of the book (at least on my hardcover copy) really does happen. It's Dimple and Rishi's first meeting. Rishi, overly excited about meeting Dimple and thinking she already knew who he was and that he'd be at Insomnia Con too, introduced himself by saying "Hello, future wife. I can't wait to get started on the rest of our lives!" (25) Dimple responded by flinging her iced coffee at him.
Things went better than I expected after that. Rather than being angry at Rishi, Dimple was more upset at her parents for arranging a marriage for her behind her back. She was sympathetic towards Rishi - she saw him as another victim of her parents' decision not to tell her what was going on.
For the most part, Dimple and Rishi were great together and balanced each other out pretty well. They got along amazingly well considering their first meeting, and although Rishi wasn't as into web development as Dimple was, he worked hard on their project because he knew it was important to her. He also kept Dimple from immersing herself so much in her work that she forgot to enjoy herself.
Rishi loved being around Dimple and seeing her excitement as she worked on her app. If I had one complaint about him, it was that, when he first started hanging out with her, it felt a little like he was waiting for an opportunity to convince her to be his future wife. However, that gradually changed into him just wanting to be around her.
It would have been nice to have seen Dimple and Rishi interacting with a greater number of decent Insomnia Con attendees. Unfortunately, most of their on-page interactions were with attendees who said gross things to Dimple or who were otherwise rude. Celia, Dimple's new friend and roommate, became friends with that group, not realizing how horrible they'd been to Dimple, and I was worried she'd morph into Dimple's enemy, leaving Dimple with no friends except Rishi. Thankfully that wasn't the case.
There was a bit more drama near the end than I expected, and I had some issues with the way one particular thing Dimple did was resolved. She had good intentions but acted without Rishi's consent, and when he found out about it and things blew up, she had the gall to call him a coward. I felt that things went a bit too smoothly and easily for her at the end. That said, this was an excellent book overall and just as fun as the cover made it look.
The book references a few Bollywood movies, which I wrote down in the hope that I could then give them a go via Netflix. The only one mentioned that I'd seen was Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, which I wholeheartedly recommend. Unfortunately, it's no longer in Netflix's catalog, at least in the US. In fact, it looks like the only movie mentioned in the book that's still available is Krrsh.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
Hm. Hikage technically chooses someone in the end, but I'm not sure the love triangle is quite resolved, just...softened?
The related extra story at the end was kind of cute and dealt with one of the series' unanswered questions.
Ooh, there's an actual page number!
The bully from the first omnibus volume is back and making lots of trouble. She's impersonating several of the people in this love triangle in an effort to, I guess, maneuver Hinata into being hers. Never mind that he still has free will and feelings of his own and he's made it clear he isn't interested. Never mind that the impersonation is provable and will almost certainly come back to bite her in the butt, the same way the bullying earlier in the series did.
I just got to this bit - Hikage trying to decide between Teru and Hinata:
"Liking someone romantically is different from just caring about them."
So...is this leading up to "it's okay to hurt and ditch the person you 'just' care about"? Again, this love triangle pisses me off.