Monday, July 27, 2009

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life

I am going to attempt to summarize this book in three sentences:

1. Jeremy Fink, science lover and collector of mutant candy, has in his possession a beautiful, yet mystifying box that can only be opened with four special keys, which are no where to be found.
2. The box contains "the meaning of life" and is to be opened on his 13th birthday.
3. His father, who died in a tragic car accident, left the box for Jeremy in his will.
A mysterious box. Missing keys. The meaning of life.


Thought so.

Wendy Mass, who is also the author of Every Soul a Star, has a great blog AND website.
I highly suggest you check them both out. (You know, in between devouring this book and starting your own mutant candy collection.)

Recipe to Read By: Mary's Chocolate Chip PB Cup Cookies
Jeremy Fink, aficionado of all things sweet and gooey, believes that all life's problems can be solved with a little sugar. And peanut butter.

-Nestle Tollhouse refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough (or any other similar product)
-Reece's peanut butter cups, unwrapped. (Be sure to look for any mutants.)

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Bake cookies as directed on package for seven minutes.
-Remove hot cookies from oven and press a Reese's PB cup into the center of each one.
(Careful not to touch the actual cookie--those chocolate chips are HOT and looking to scorch any wayward fingers!)
-Return cookies to oven until golden brown around the edges.

*Note: This also works with other types of bite-size chocolate bars and cookie dough. I don't think Jeremy would mind too much if you experimented, as long as you stash a handful of candy in your pocket for later.

Monday, July 20, 2009

"Home, Home on the Range"

A Heart of a Shepherd is not for the faint at heart, nor is it for crybabies. (I happen to be both and I wish someone would have warned me first!) I don't usually grab books on a whim without reading about them first, but something drew me to this one. After reading the first few pages while sitting on the floor of the library I was completely absorbed. My library surroundings soon faded and I was transported to a ranch in Oregon, where heartache, adventure, and the beauty of nature surround me.

Roseanne Parry weaves a fascinating tale about Brother (his real name is Ignatius), a young boy who lives on a ranch with his grandparents, father, and four brothers.
After his father leaves for Iraq and his brothers all go away to school, the job of tending the livestock and managing the ranch falls in Brother's hands. This becomes quite a job for an 11-year-old, but Brother is determined to work hard and prove to his older brothers that he can do it with only the help of his grandfather, who is slowly failing in health, and one lone hired man.

There are some intense scenes where Brother learns how to stitch up the wound in his brother's head, births a cow (yes, this was gross but also amazing!), and helps to heal a sick animal. When I try to remember what I was capable of at eleven years old (lemonade stands and friendship bracelets--definitely not birthing cows!) Brother becomes even more of a hero in my mind.

If you love animals, realistic fiction, or are just looking to transport yourself to a completely new
and wonderful setting, this book is for you. But like I said, keep a box of tissues nearby.

Stories with animals and grandpas always get me...

Recipe to Read By: Molasses Cookies
Brother's grandma always keeps a jar of these spicy cookies on the counter.
Word to the wise--don't stick your finger in the molasses jar and then lick it. It definitely DOES NOT taste like darkened honey.

3/4 cup margarine, melted
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup white sugar

1.In a medium bowl, mix together the melted margarine, 1 cup sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in the molasses. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger; blend into the molasses mixture. Cover, and chill dough for 1 hour.

2.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Roll dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining white sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.

3.Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until tops are cracked. Cool on wire racks.

4. Put on a cowboy hat, lasso your dog, and pretend you're heading into town to buy some horseshoes and goat feed.

*Recipe courtesy of

Watch the book trailer here or by going to

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bibbety-Bobbity-Boo! (And Booger Cookies, too)

There's no voice on the outside that can tell you more than the voice on the inside. (From Be the One with the Wand, chapter nine).

Hunky Dory is a witch. And not just any witch. According to her mother she will be "the wickedest witch wherever the four winds blow." She is at the head of her class when it comes to casting spells, brewing potions, and turning handsome princes into frogs, much to the envy of the others in her coven.

Despite her natural witching abilities, Hunky has a strong desire to be something else. Something....good. More specifically, she wants to use her witchcraft to practice wishcraft. Yes, you read that correctly: The wickedest witch wants to trade in her nefarious schemes to become--oh boy get ready for this--a fairy godmother. (Insert collective gasps here.) As you can imagine, this does not go over well.

Hunky gets kicked out of Miss Harbinger's class and is thrown out of her own mother's cave to boot. Confused, hurt, and alone, Hunky heads for the woods where she conjures up a house made of chocolate chip cookie dough (gingerbread is so overrated) and charges people one gold coin to grant their wishes from the bottom of a well. Among the characters who visit her are: Goldilocks (who helps herself to anything in the house--typical), Little Red Riding Hood (who wishes for a jean jacket to replace her outrageously uncool red cape), Wolf (who wishes for a grandmother costume--weirdo), and the devilishly handsome Rumpelstiltskin (who becomes a surprising friend despite his evil ways).

To reunite with her mother, Hunky grants her a deep down, remove-the-corn-husk to find it wish that even her mother herself doesn't know she wants. As it turns out, her wish was to be an aunt, so a baby appears for Auntie Malice. (Hunky is crazy-good at pulling babies out of nowhere.) As you can imagine, all things cute, cuddly, and giggly are incredibly revolting to a witch, so Hunky's mother is less than pleased to have a cooing baby in her care.

"Hunky, you've really gone too far this time. This baby doesn't even speak the same language as we do. And the things that come out of that baby's behind are about a million times more foul than anything I could have concocted in my cauldron." (I love that last line!)

Top 3 Things I Love About this Book:

1.) The fantastically unusual names of the characters. (Sinus Infection, Acid Reflux, and Frantic Search being my favorites.)

2.) It teaches you a lesson without you even knowing that you are being taught a lesson. (Esme is sneaky like that!)

3.) It includes a recipe for cookies :)

Recipe to Read By: Hunky's Booger Cookies

Don't eat too many of these disgustingly good cookies, or you'll be too heavy for your broomstick to carry you, as Hunky would say.

You can find the recipe on Esme's blog or by flipping to the end of the book.

This post is dedicated to my book-eating dog who also, quite coincidentally, loves to eat boogers.

Thank you, Kendall, for not eating this one.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Super Easy Cookies with a Patriotic Flair

Watcha reading over the 4th of July? Ok, yeah. Let's not kid ourselves. Since I know for a fact that NO ONE (not even the biggest of bookworms) will be curling up with a book during barbeques and fireworks, I have decided to go ahead and post one of my favorite, easy, and extremely versatile cookie recipes. In a mere 15 minutes, you will have a warm, festive, and downright tasty treat that will be gone in less time it took you to make them.

Get those ovens preheating, pronto!

Red, White, and Blue Sugar Cookies


-box of cake mix (any flavor will do, but for Red, White, and Blue Cookies I would use vanilla or yellow)
-1 tsp. baking powder
-2 eggs
-1/2 cup of vegetable oil
-red and blue food coloring


1. Pour the cake mix into a large bowl and mix it with the baking powder.

2. Dump in the eggs and oil. Mix well. (There should be no eggy or powdery lumps)

3. Preheat the oven to 350.

4. Divide the dough into 3 piles. Stir in drops of blue and red coloring into two of the piles, leaving one pile the same.

5. Roll dough into tablespoon-size balls.

6. Roll the balls into sugar. (The dough will be sticky. Try extremely hard not to lick your fingers!)

7. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or whenever they start to smell really good and you can't take the anticipation anymore.

8. Let cool for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a wire rack or your mouth :)

Happy Fourth! The books will be back with a vengeance next week.