Relish: My Life in the Kitchen

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley is a wonderful graphic novel about her lifelong relationship with cooking. Lucy grew up in a household where food was always central. Her mother ran a catering business, grew her own food, and operated a farmer’s market stall. Due to this constant exposure, Lucy based many of her memories on food. Huevos rancheros reminds her of her adventures in Mexico with her best friend. Croissants remind her of the time she backpacked through Europe with a close college friend. Sushi takes her back to her travels in Japan. Hot chocolate, burgers, and fries remind her of traveling Italy with her father. Baking sweets became her way of working through stressful times in her life. Accompanied by these recorded memories are delicious recipes that are fun to make. After reading this graphic novel, you will gain a new appreciation for the importance different types of food can have on impacting people’s lives.

Genre: Non-fiction graphic novel

Setting: Modern-day Mexico, Italy, Japan, New York, and Chicago.

Number of pages: 173

Themes: Family, friendship, travel, growing up, and cooking.

Is this good for a book club? This would be good for book clubs that enjoy books about food.

Objectionable content? There are discussions of alcohol, periods, and pornographic magazines.

Can children read this? Teenagers would enjoy the stories.

Who would like this? Anyone who loves food.

Rating: Five stars

The Road to El Dorado

The Road to El Dorado is a wonderful movie for the entire family. It is about two Spanish con men, named Tulio and Miguel, who, after gambling for a map, getting captured and escaping from Cortés himself, and taking his horse Altivo along, find themselves somewhere in South America. They follow the map to find the legendary city of gold. Upon arriving, they meet a wonderful cast of characters, they are worshiped as gods, Tulio forms a relationship with a woman named Chel, and they get caught up in the sinister plans of a man named Tzekel-Kan. All the while, Cortés is drawing closer…

This movie is one of my personal childhood favorites. It is a musical comedy that is perfect for children and adults. The plot is well-paced. At no point does one feel as if things have slowed down too much, which is especially good for children. The songs are memorable, the jokes are consistently funny, and the portrayal of Indigenous people is done very well.

Did you know that the people of El Dorado are meant to represent many different cultures of South America? Each aspect of the society (i.e. the buildings) is taken from a different civilization of South America.

Setting: Spain and the continent of South America in 1519.

What is this movie rated? PG

What is the run time? One hour and twenty-nine minutes.

Is there any objectionable content? There is cartoon violence in this movie, allusions to violence that is unseen, two on-screen deaths (one is a human and the other is a seagull), and two short scenes that show blood. Chel is a bit scantily clad, and there is a suggestive scene between her and Tulio. Tzekel-Kan has some scary scenes when he uses dark magic and when he is trying to sacrifice someone. This character also presents dark views of religion. Also, there are several adult jokes that are aimed at parents. However, as mentioned above, the portrayal of the people of El Dorado is not done disrespectfully.

Is this movie appropriate for children of all ages? Younger children may be scared or upset at a few scenes, but they should be fine otherwise. They will probably miss the adult jokes.

What themes are found in the movie? Themes of friendship, romance, good vs. evil, making mistakes, and adventure are found throughout this movie.

Who would like this? This movie is good for most families who like music, adventure, and comedic family fun.

Rating? Five stars.

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BOOK REVIEW: The Summer He Came Home by Juliana Stone

Juliana Stone

Juliana Stone

Author Juliana Stone loves the written word and 80’s rock.  She sings in an 80’s rock band where her husband plays the guitar.  So it’s no surprise that The Summer He Came Home centers around a bad boy rock ‘n roller.  This is book one in the series Bad Boys of Crystal Lake.

Ten years ago, Cain Black packed his guitar and left Crystal Lake to chase his dream.  The death of one of his best friends forces him back home.  He thinks it’s going to be a quick trip to pay his respects, but his heart has other ideas.  Cain has learned the hard way that fame and fortune is not all it’s cracked up to be.  He finds out his wife (now ex) and best friend (also ex and key member of the band) were fooling around with each other behind his back and he’s also just plain tired of the rock star life style.

Maggie-Grace O’Rourke is a single mom and new to Crystal Lake.  She works as a maid and is counting on living in the shadows to hide from her terrible past.  The last thing she needs is the attention of a famous rock star.  She’s looking for some peace and a good place to raise her 7 year old son.

Cain meets Maggie on his first day back in Crystal Lake.  Neither one wants or is prepared for the attraction they feel for each other.  The author takes her time in letting their relationship grow.  It was fun to watch them get comfortable with each other and Cain’s relationship with Maggie’s son is very sweet.   There is drama, suspense, and humor mixed in with a sweet and, eventually, hot romance.

One of the best aspects of the book was the relationships between Cain and the other “bad boys”.  We are introduced to Jake, who is the twin brother of Jessie – whose funeral it is that Cain came back for.  Jessie was killed in Afghanistan – his death witnessed by Jake.  Jessie leaves behind his wife, Raine.  Jake not only has issues with his twin’s death, but also what to do about Raine.  We are also introduced to Mac, an architect who has his own demons to deal with – namely an abusive father.  The author does an excellent job of weaving these characters, and others from this small town, into the story.

This is a beautifully written story of love and friendship with very realistic and likeable characters.  I’m looking forward to the upcoming books in this series.