Monday, January 16, 2017

Medieval Lego gets 5 Stars {nonfiction}

Medieval Lego by Greyson Beights is a great nonfiction book about mostly English history during the medieval time 1045-1485 BC.  Short historical stories with fun Lego pictures makes for a great book 4th-8th grade would enjoy.  Boys or any lego fan will enjoy this book. Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/ book picture book non-fiction fun

Medieval Lego by Greyson Beights nonfiction book is well done and would make a great purchase for a Lego fan and history lover.

To be honest, I do not love history, but I do love learning.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book for many reasons, and I am sure I am not the only one to enjoy this read.  This book had me laughing out loud when I read that monk Matthew Paris wrote about King John making "Hell worse" now that he has died.  I enjoyed learning about the feuds between the Lancasters and the Yorks.  I really just enjoyed so much about Medieval Lego.    

Medieval Lego by Greyson Beights is a great nonfiction book about mostly English history during the medieval time 1045-1485 BC.  Short historical stories with fun Lego pictures makes for a great book 4th-8th grade would enjoy.  Boys or any lego fan will enjoy this book. Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/ book picture book non-fiction fun

I give Medieval Lego 5 out of 5 stars for the fun and unique pictures, the length of the stories, and how cohesive the book was even though there were so many different experts contributing their knowledge and skills. 

 I loved the Lego pictures and thought it was creative and unique to use them for a historical book.  The detail of them was impressive, and I had no idea there were people that built Legos for a career.  In the back of the book I learned there was even a teenager that contributed to the Lego artwork in this book.  I think that is awesome! 

I also loved the information in this book and how it was presented.  I learned a TON about medieval history from this book with all of the facts, but the writing was still interesting.  Making history interesting is not always easy, but Beights did that fantastically.

Suprisingly, b/c I don't love non-fiction,  I wanted to keep reading.  I loved that the history was presented in short stories that are easy to read even for a non-history lover like myself.  Therefore, a reluctant reader could enjoy this non-fiction/informational text, but I doubt a reluctant reader would choose this book for himself/herself.  A reluctant reader may not gravitate to this book, but if a kid who doesn't like to read had to read a historical or non-fiction book, Medieval Lego would be a great choice. 

I found it very cool that there were so many experts contributing.  Almost each short story/chapter had a different contributor, but yet Beights was still able to keep the book feeling cohesive.  Beights really did a fantastic job keeping the book's writing in the same style even with the many contributors. 

Medieval Lego by Greyson Beights is a great nonfiction book about mostly English history during the medieval time 1045-1485 BC.  Short historical stories with fun Lego pictures makes for a great book 4th-8th grade would enjoy.  Boys or any lego fan will enjoy this book. Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/ book picture book non-fiction fun

As far as who this book would be best for, I'd say 4th to 8th graders, and adults who enjoy history, would enjoy this book the most.  Boys are usually the ones to prefer non-fiction books, but anyone that likes Legos and/or non-fiction reads would enjoy this book.  

I find the book descriptions authors and publishers write to often be valuable.  The book descriptions not only give a bit more info about the book and story line, but it also is how the publisher is trying to "sell" the book to you.  Therefore, I like to share the book descriptions with you b/c this is how the author and publisher decided to sell you, the reader, on this fun book.  

"Castles and kings, battles and treaties, famine and plague, intrigue and invasion!

Medieval LEGO takes you through real English history in the middle ages with a unique twist, with every event illustrated by a tiny little LEGO scene. With contributions by medievalists and scholars, this book brings medieval history to life in a fun, kid-friendly way.
Inside, you'll learn about events like the Battle of Hastings, the chartering of Oxford University, and the signing of the Magna Carta. You'll witness the Great Fire of London, the Black Death, and the Great Famine, and you'll read about famous historical figures like Robin Hood, Richard the Lionheart, Geoffrey Chaucer, and William the Conqueror.
Grab your broadsword and turn the page to join the adventure." 


Happy Medieval Lego Fantastic Non-fiction Book reading


I received this book from Myrick Marketing in exchange for my review and honest opinion.  All of my thoughts, opinions, and words are my own.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Three Little Pigs gets 4 Stars {picture book}

The Three Little Pigs adapted by Mara Alperin is a fun read aloud with colorful illustrations.  4 out of 5 stars in this book review for this classic fairy tale adaptation.  Alohamora Open a Book www.alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com

The Three Little Pigs by Mara Alperin is a pretty great fairy tale adaptation of a classic.   This adaptation is well done.  

The Three Little Pigs adapted by Mara Alperin is a fun read aloud with colorful illustrations.  4 out of 5 stars in this book review for this classic fairy tale adaptation.  Alohamora Open a Book www.alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com
  
I give this adaptation 4 out of 5 stars in my book review.  It really is a fun story, and would make a great read loud for toddlers and older.  

In this Three Little Pigs adaptation the illustrations are fantastic and colorful.  The story is fun to read aloud with phrases like, "Hip Hip Hey," "Tra-la-la" and "Tip tip tap," and the length of the story is great for preschoolers.  


The only reason I didn't give the highest rating for this book is b/c the writing wasn't quite polished enough for my tastes.  The story was too clunky with many "One day," Then one day," "Then," and "Until" are just a few examples to show the unpolished form of the text.   
  
The Three Little Pigs adapted by Mara Alperin is a fun read aloud with colorful illustrations.  4 out of 5 stars in this book review for this classic fairy tale adaptation.  Alohamora Open a Book www.alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com

However, I still feel this fairy tale adaption would make a great purchase if you were looking for a good version of this classic fairy tale. 

I normally give you an Amzon book description  of the book, but I felt we all know the  story line of this classic well enough. ;)

Enjoy and happy classic fairy tale reading

  
I received this book from Myrick Marketing in exchange for my review and honest opinion.  All of my thoughts, opinions, and words are my own.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Help! The Wolf is Coming! gets 3.5 Stars {Picture Book}

Help! The Wolf is Coming by Ramadier is an interactive picture book for toddlers through kindergartners.  It's a fun book, and perfect for that age b/c it is interactive.  3.5 out of 5 stars in my review. Alohamora Open a Book. http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/ picture book, board book, books for boys, fun books, raising readers, making reading fun

I absolutely love interactive books.  Don't Push the Button has been a favorite of all of my kids; it is my favorite interactive book.  I highly suggest you own it.  That book was the turning point for my youngest child with reading and books.  After we read that book for a week or so my youngest child began to enjoy all books; she loves reading books now.  Interactive books are fantastic books for the squirmier kids, young ones, and those that don't enjoy books b/c it gets them involved in the fun of reading.  Interactive books are a way to "Raising Readers."  

Help! The Wolf is Coming! by Cedric Ramadier is an interactive board book.  I was hopeful to find another good interactive book. 

Help! The Wolf is Coming by Ramadier is an interactive picture book for toddlers through kindergartners.  It's a fun book, and perfect for that age b/c it is interactive.  3.5 out of 5 stars in my review. Alohamora Open a Book. http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/ picture book, board book, books for boys, fun books, raising readers, making reading fun

I give Help! The Wolf is Coming! 3.5 out of 5 stars in my book review.  There were things I liked about the book, and there were things that I felt should've been done better.  I liked that it was an interactive book and the concept about a wolf coming to get you is fun.  I felt the simplicity of the colors and the pictures a great idea for the young age group.  

However, there were a few things I felt could've been done a lot better.  I think the interactive parts, the whole point of the book, should've been done better.  I feel the interactive instructions were repetitive; there was a lot of "Quick turn the page!"  I felt besides turning a page the only other interactive aspects was to tilt or tip a page rather than any tapping, scratching, or much of anything else.  

Help! The Wolf is Coming by Ramadier is an interactive picture book for toddlers through kindergartners.  It's a fun book, and perfect for that age b/c it is interactive.  3.5 out of 5 stars in my review. Alohamora Open a Book. http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/ picture book, board book, books for boys, fun books, raising readers, making reading fun

All in all, Help! The Wolf is Coming! is just an okay interactive book in my opinion; though I'm a pretty tough grader. ;) My kids enjoy this book, but it is not as interactive fun as I'd like.  I would say this book is best for toddlers through kindergartners, and any kid who struggles to stay put.    

Help! The Wolf is Coming by Ramadier is an interactive picture book for toddlers through kindergartners.  It's a fun book, and perfect for that age b/c it is interactive.  3.5 out of 5 stars in my review. Alohamora Open a Book. http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/ picture book, board book, books for boys, fun books, raising readers, making reading fun

Amazon has the following review from School Library Journal: 

"PreS-Gr 1—This interactive board book enlists the help of readers to keep an approaching wolf at bay. As the beady-eyed lupine looms on the horizon, the minimal text instructs: "Quick! Turn the page." To further thwart the wolf's advance, readers are tasked with shaking, tipping, and turning the book. Brightly bold yellow and green backgrounds glow with fervor and anticipation. In a clever, circular twist, the topsy-turvy escapades continue after the last page is slammed shut, with an alert: "Phew! The wolf has gone. Are you sure? Quick! Flip the book and check." VERDICT Boisterous fun in the spirit of HervĂ© Tullet's Press Here (Chronicle, 2011) and Adam Lehrhaupt's Warning: Do Not Open This Book (S. & S., 2013)."

Are you an interactive book fan?  Any favorites?

Happy Wolf Attacking Interactive Book reading


I received this book from Myrick Marketing in exchange for my review and honest opinion.  All of my thoughts, opinions, and words are my own.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Cinnamon Ice Cream {Egg, Nut, and Gluten Free}

Cinnamon Ice Cream. Homemade ice cream is easy to make, healthier than regular ice cream with a Cinnamon Roll Oreo crunch. Recipe. Egg Free. Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

When I shared the oh so delicious Pumpkin Ice Cream recipe with you I shared how far ice cream makers have come.  I even included our ice cream maker on My Favorite Kitchen Toys, I mean Tools, of 2016

We have been exploring with many ice cream flavors, and today I am sharing another amazing one.  Cinnamon Ice Cream, I honestly never knew how delicious cinnamon ice cream could be until we made this one.  Before, if I had been at an ice cream parlor I would've never selected it, but now this ice cream is one of my favorites.  It's amazing. 

As a bonus, this ice cream is a little healthier than store bought ice cream b/c of the extra milk we added instead of heavy cream. Tho, we probably ruined our healthier aspect by adding some crunch in the ice cream through the Cinnamon Bun Oreos (Golden tastes delicious as well).  I guess you can't win them all.  ;) 

If you are wanting this to be gluten free be sure to leave out the cookies, or add GF cookies. 

Cinnamon Ice Cream
Recipe: Alohamora
Active Time: 5-10 minutes
Inactive Time: 2 1/2 hours + 8 hrs for firmness
Servings: About 5 cups

Ingredients: 
2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. milk (we use skim, but whatever you have)
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla

Optional Mix-Ins: 
10-15 crushed Golden Oreo or Cinnamon Bun Oreo cookies

Directions: 

  1. In a small bowl mix all of the ingredients, except the mix-ins, together.
  2. Cover and place it in the fridge for at least 2 hours the longer you leave it in the fridge the creamier the ice cream.  
  3. Turn the ice cream maker on, and pour the cream mixture into the ice cream maker.  Let the ice cream maker do all of the work for 20-30 minutes. 
  4. When the ice cream is just about done you can add any mix-ins you desire and let the machine stir it all.  You can also remove the ice cream to an airtight ice cream storage bowl and add the mix-ins then.  Stir your desired mix-ins with a spoon. 
  5. Your ice cream will be soft serve at this point.  We enjoy a scoop now, and then place the rest in a airtight container in the freezer.  The hard ice cream will set in about 8 hours.
  6. Enjoy! 
  7. Store leftovers in the freezer in that airtight container. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Ben Says Goodbye gets 3.5 Stars {picture book}

Ben Says Goodbye by Sarah Ellis book review for this 3.5/5 stars rating about a boy who is sad his friend is moving. Therapy, bibliotherapy b/c this topic is relatable.  B/c kids have friends and neighbors move this book is relatable to readers and therefore of value. Alohamora Open a Book Cinnamon Ice Cream. Homemade ice cream is easy to make, healthier than regular ice cream with a Cinnamon Roll Oreo crunch. Recipe. Egg Free. gluten free, nut free Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

Ben Says Goodbye by Sarah Ellis is a relatable book for many kids, and b/c kids go through this same situation this book has value.  Kids will be able to read this book, and see how Ben and his family handle the situation of Ben's friend moving.  Using books to help and for therapy of sort is called bibliotherapy.  

Bibliotherapy can be powerful for little things, like not wanting to eat your green veggies (Pinkalicious), to big things, like losing a loved one.  There are many books about many topics that are for more than just the fun of reading.  These stories often pull double duty, entertain and support/teach/educate; however, a well written story often does.    

Ben Says Goodbye gets 3.5 out of 5 stars in my book review.  I really like the relatability of this story for kids.  I have seen my daughter sad when her friend and our neighbor moved.  I feel the page portrayed below is quite accurate depiction of the situation through a child's eyes.  "Box after box" loaded into the truck and then when a new truck comes "Box after box" unloaded.   I also really like the ending; I'm a sucker for happy endings.  This sweet ending makes me happy.   

Ben Says Goodbye by Sarah Ellis book review for this 3.5/5 stars rating about a boy who is sad his friend is moving. Therapy, bibliotherapy b/c this topic is relatable.  B/c kids have friends and neighbors move this book is relatable to readers and therefore of value. Alohamora Open a Book Cinnamon Ice Cream. Homemade ice cream is easy to make, healthier than regular ice cream with a Cinnamon Roll Oreo crunch. Recipe. Egg Free. gluten free, nut free Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

However, there were a few things I didn't love.  I didn't love the table/cave part of the book.  Personally, I don't think it added anything to the story, but rather took away from it.  I understand what the author was trying to portray (a child dealing with it his way on his terms), but I just think it ended up looking random and slightly weird.  To be honest, the text, aka how well written it was, wasn't bad (there were some strong points) but it wasn't great either.

All in all, Ben Says Goodbye isn't an amazing book, but public and school libraries would benefit having it in their collections.  This book definitely has value, but I wouldn't buy it for my personal library.  

Amazon had the following book description to give you an idea of the storyline. 

"When Ben’s best friend Peter moves away, Ben decides that he will move, too―into a “cave” under the kitchen table. Caveman Ben doesn’t need any friends except his tame (stuffed) lion. He hunts for his food (thoughtfully left on a plate by Mom and Dad) and communicates in grunts. And in the safety of his cave he can imagine a world where friends control their own destinies and distance is no obstacle.

Award-winning author-illustrator team Sarah Ellis and Kim La Fave have produced yet another book in which they gently guide Ben through an experience that is both familiar and daunting to preschoolers everywhere. Ellis’ text deftly taps into the thoughts and feelings of a young child, while La Fave’s endearing art captures both the depths of Ben’s dismay and the warmth of the family members who support him through his crisis. Young readers and listeners will celebrate with Ben as, having been given the space to work through his difficult feelings, he emerges from his cave ready to rejoin his family and look forward to new friendships."

Do you have a kid sad b/c of change, a friend moving, or the loss of a friendship?  This would be a great book to read with them and then talk with them about if their feelings could be similar to Ben. 

Happy Picture Book Reading on Loss, Change, and Moving


I received this book from Myrick Marketing in exchange for my review and honest opinion.  All of my thoughts, opinions, and words are my own. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Heartless gets 3.5 Stars {Fantasy, Fractured Fairy Tale} {YA Lit}

Heartless by Marissa Meyer a fractured fairytale fantasy about how the Queen of Hearts in Wonderland became the Queen.  Really great idea for a story, but with such an idea I feel it should've been more character driven rather than plot driven.  More of a love story.  YA lit, young adult literature, teen reads, Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland, kind of like Wicked of Alice in Wonderland. Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

Heartless is the Wicked of Alice in Wonderland.  Heartless tells the story of how the Queen of Hearts becomes the cruel "heartless" Queen of Hearts.  

Personally, I love fractured fairy tales and fairy tale retellings.  I have reviewed a number of them on here, and given high marks.  To be honest, I had high hopes this book would be fantastic b/c a lot of the books I get from OwlCrate are great. However, a lot of people, especially YA lit fans, love Marissa Meyer.  I personally think her ideas are great, but she's never been an author that has really spoken to me. J.K Rowling, Sarah Dessen, John Green are a few authors that I really like.   

PS- The pictures of Heartless with the white covers are the ones from the November OwlCrate subscription boxes.  If you look at the book on Amazon it has a black cover.  I think it is really cool that the OwlCrate books are unique. The below quote and the letter from Marissa Meyer was also in the box.  It was a cool box, and I am still a fan of OwlCrate. 
     
Heartless by Marissa Meyer a fractured fairytale fantasy about how the Queen of Hearts in Wonderland became the Queen.  Really great idea for a story, but with such an idea I feel it should've been more character driven rather than plot driven.  More of a love story.  YA lit, young adult literature, teen reads, Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland, kind of like Wicked of Alice in Wonderland. Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/

Heartless by Marissa Meyer gets 3.5 out of 5 stars in my book review. 

Basically, I just thought Heartless was okay.  I like the story of how Catherine became the Queen of Hearts and how she became so brutal and "heartless."  I liked the connection and the background on many of the Wonderland characters we all know from Lewis Carroll's story.  I like the reason behind why the Queen of Hearts will have nothing to do with white roses.  All in all, I liked the book; it is an okay story of a cool concept.  However, it wasn't executed as well as I had hoped.

I did love that Catherine, was a baker.  At the beginning of the book she talked about baking a lemon tart and the need to make it look good.  Baking a treat that is delicious and looks amazing speaks to my baker food blogger's heart.  Rarely do I read a story about a character that feels so similar to baking as I do.    

One of my biggest qualms with Heartless was the fact that it was a plot driven love story more than a character driven story.  The concept of Heartless is how the Queen became the Queen, but yet it didn't dive into her mind and thoughts like a book of this concept should in my opinion.  

I also felt the book was drawn out and moved a bit too slow.  I struggle with drawn out slow reads; my ADD struggles with that.  All in all, it was just okay.  Nothing fantastic, but I've never been a huge Meyer fan so maybe that was expected.  


I'd love to hear what you think.  Did you read it?  What would you rate it?  According to Goodreads and Amazon I am in the minority in my thinking so I wouldn't be surprised if you felt differently. 

Just to give you a better idea of the story line I've copied Amazon's book description

"Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.


Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."


Happy Fractured Wonderland Fairy Tale reading




Monday, January 2, 2017

The Ultimate Grilled Cheese



The Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich kids enjoy buy adults absolutely love.  This sandwich has the best flavors.  So flavorful with honey, basil, tomatoes, and havarti cheese.  Delicious. Alohamora Open a Book http://alohamoraopenabook.blogspot.com/ simple, fast to make, easy to make, amazing, comfort food, lunch, dinner, quick, fun, warm

Happy 2017!  What better way is there to start off the new year than with the best?!
  
This sandwich is the absolute best grilled cheese sandwich. Ever.  It is truly The Ultimate Grilled Cheese.  

The flavors are perfect with the honey, basil, tomatoes, and Havarti cheese.  The soft and gooey center goes perfectly with the crunchy buttery bread.  The entire flavor and texture combination make it the best grilled cheese sandwich.

This is the perfect sandwich for those cold days, days you need a quick lunch or dinner, and days you just need a little extra comfort found in a delicious meal.  Kids will enjoy this grilled cheese, but adults will love it. 

My sister shared this recipe with me, and I am forever grateful.  My grilled cheese days will never be the same again.  My sister apparently got the recipe or idea for the recipe from Oprah about 13 years ago.  My family went to visit her family in Nebraska this last October.  It gets a lot colder than Arizona and the wind cuts through you. One day for lunch after we had been outside with the kids, and I was a little chilled, she introduced me to this.  It was amazing!  My taste buds were happy.   

I almost bought a panini/sandwich maker for this sandwich alone b/c that is how my sister made the sandwich and I had to recreate it.  My husband helped prevent that impulse purchase, and, as a result, I learned I could get the same texture and look from my grill pan.  You could do this on a griddle as well.  Basically, you can make this sandwich with whatever you have.  Basically, you just need to make this sandwich.   

The Ultimate Grilled Cheese
Recipe: My Sister
Active Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Time: 0
Servings: 1

Ingredients: 
2 bread slices
butter
honey
2 Havarti cheese slices
2 tomato slices
dash basil, dried (can do fresh)

Optional: thin ham slices

Directions: 

  1. Heat your griddle or grill pan to medium to low heat.  If you have a panini/sandwich maker heat that up.  
  2. Butter the outside of both slices of bread.  
  3. Evenly spread honey on the inside of both slices of bread. 
  4. Place Havarti cheese on top of the honey on both slices of bread. 
  5. Place your tomato slices on one side of the sandwich.  I've used sliced grape tomatoes, and it works just as marvelously. 
  6. If you want to add ham to your sandwich do this on the bread slice without tomatoes. 
  7. Place fresh basil on top of the tomatoes, or sprinkle dried basil on top of the tomatoes. 
  8. Put your bread slices together to build your sandwich, and place the sandwich butter side down on the heated pan.  
  9. Cook your sandwich to your desired crispiness. 
  10. Enjoy! 

Happy Ultimate Grilled Cheese sandwich eating!