Book Review: Mistborn

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson is the first book in a fantasy fiction series.  The term “mistborn” refers to people who are born with the ability to “burn” or use more than one metal to do their bidding.  By swallowing metals and burning them, the mistborn can do all sorts of things like traveling quickly and having super human senses and strength.  Mistborns are rare and are mostly found amongst the nobility.  In order to prevent skaa (the lower class – slaves, thieves, etc.) from obtaining powers, the noble men are required to kill the skaa women they sleep with before they can bear children.  The book’s heroine is Vin, a skaa thief, who learns that she is mistborn.  Vin has had a hard life, being abused and abandoned her entire life, until she meets Kell, who takes her under his wing and teaches her about being a mistborn.

I have to admit that it took me a little while to get into the book.  I felt sorry for Vin, but she became a lot more interesting when she wasn’t such a helpless victim.  I found Kell to be a much more interesting character.  The author did a great job of setting up Kell as the leader.  Though he was charismatic and friendly with everyone, he maintained a certain aloofness, keeping parts of his plan a secret from even close members of his group.  He dealt with people viewing him as savior and people calling him egotistical and doubting him.  I also enjoyed the way the author portrayed society in this book.  I enjoyed the philosophical questions that the characters asked of each other and of themselves about their society and what it meant to be skaa.

In addition to having great insight into societies and how they function, the author has great insight into individuals.  I hate it when authors have characters who basically all act the same, regardless of their age – everyone’s witty and a bit roguish.  In Mistborn, Vin, for the most part, acts like a young girl.  She makes mistakes and says things that a young girl would.  The other characters also acted their age and had distinctive personalities.

I’ve started the second book, but I don’t know if I’m going to review each book in the series.

Cookbook review: Snack Girl to the Rescue

It seems like the people who liked this cookbook were people who follow the author’s blog.  I do not fall into this category.

The first half of the book is about eating healthy.  It’s very, very basic information – most of it is common sense and if you’ve looked at any diet or healthy eating books, you’ve probably heard it all before.  Basically, eat less processed foods, eat more fruits & veggies and whole grains, exercise, and try to eat a variety of foods.  I didn’t find anything novel in this section.

The second half of the book consists of pretty easy recipes.  It is split up into breakfast, mains, sides, snacks, dips, and desserts.  There were NO photos of the food at all.  Personally, I like to see appetizing food because the visual beauty of the food entices me to try the recipes.  Most of the breakfast recipes were for muffins or pancakes (4 muffin recipes, 3 pancake recipes).  This was very disappointing.  The muffins were whole wheat, but if you read about healthy eating, you probably know that you should have some sort of protein for breakfast.  I was also disappointed in the types of recipes presented.  For example, the breakfast burrito (1 of the 2 breakfast recipes that contained protein) was to put bacon (how is bacon healthy?), scrambled eggs, onion, and cheese in a tortilla and then microwave it.  I’m all for simple recipes, but this type of recipe is ridiculous.  Unless you think that boiling an egg is cooking, you don’t need a recipe for this type of thing.  Another example is that there is a recipe for Greek yogurt and jam.  Really?!

It’s a bit ironic, too, that she talks about eating less processed food at the beginning of the book, but her recipes call for processed ingredients like bacon, jam, tortillas, sliced ham, packaged taco seasoning mix, etc.  Taco seasoning is easy.  There is no need to buy the packaged stuff that is full of sodium and other chemicals.

I tried some of her recipes.  No surprise that the ones that tasted good were the ones that called for cheese and meat.  The more healthy recipes like the “poached boneless, skinless chicken breast for every day” were bland, boring and tasteless.  The thyme and garlic clove that the recipe called for wasn’t enough seasoning.  It needed salt, pepper, paprika, and other herbs to make it edible.  In fairness, the author admitted that the chicken breast was bland and suggested using it as an ingredient in other recipes, such as chicken salad or Mexican chicken soup.  I found that the chicken breast that was precooked and then put into the chicken soup got to be overcooked and tasted like rubber.

The redeeming section of the book, to me was the section on “Kale & Other Healthy Snacks.”  I liked the kale chips and apple chips (I only used cinnamon and didn’t add the extra sugar because the apples were sweet enough),

If you decide to purchase this book, I would recommend buying a hard copy rather than the ebook.  The ebook was formatted differently and split in odd places so sometimes tables were split between 2 pages.

I was provided a free ebook copy in exchange for my honest review of this cookbook.  This review has also been posted on Blogging for Books.

Book Review: Peter Pan Must Die by John Verdon

I’ve read a lot of murder/cop mysteries.  Much as I like them, they are usually what I consider “book candy,” in that they don’t have a lot of depth.  The characters are interesting and it’s fun to try to predict the endings, but for the most part, the books are all about plot.

I felt that this book was just a little more than that.  There are still plenty of plot twists and turns, but I enjoyed the characters in this book.  Dave Gurney is an excellent investigator, but it was nice to see the author point out the faults of someone who is excellent at his job. 

I was a little taken aback at first at all the generic plot twists, such as the wife being on trial for murdering the husband, the possible mob ties, etc. (I was rolling my eyes), but I was pleasantly surprised by the way I was guided through the story.  That made this book worth reading.

At the end of the day, I walked away liking this book just a little more than other books in its genre.  I felt like I learned a bit from reading this book and that even though it was mostly book candy, there was some brain nutrition in there.

I received a free copy of this book from http://www.bloggingforbooks.org. 

This is a re-post of my review on their site.