Tag Archives: Food

With The Fire On High (review by Anya W. ’20)

With the Fire on HighWith the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ever since she got pregnant with babygirl, Emoni’s life has been about deciding right: she knows better than to mess around, because she’s got babygirl to look after and money to save. College, mistakes like boys, and even the new cooking course that could let her pursue her dreams as a chef seem so far beyond her reach.

The snappy dialogue of Emoni’s internal monologue is easily matched by the well-crafted plot and brilliant characterization of the novel. Acevedo spins a fun, thought provoking tale of hope, responsibility, success, and picking yourself back up after you fall down. The romance is better handled in than many other books I have read in the genre, and the author does a stellar job of handling difficult topics. While the novel my be a little more mature than most YA works, it is still accessible enough to resonate with teen readers and honestly better written than many a YA beach reads.

With the Fire on High is a stunning piece, just as good if not better than Acevedo’s earlier work on The Poet X. Her characters are realistic, complex, and likable, and while I can see her writing style developing in some similarities in her protagonists, Acevedo has clearly proven she is not a one trick pony. -Anya W. ’20

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Sourdough by Robin Sloan (review by Tasha M. ’20)

SourdoughSourdough by Robin Sloan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lois Clary, a typical Silicon Valley programmer, receives a sourdough starter from two brothers who are part of a small community called the Mazg. As Lois bakes with the starter, she observes strange effects – each loaf has a face in the crust. She quits her job and devotes herself to running a stall at a farmer’s market, where she encounters rather eccentric products – from cricket cookies to fungus-infected lemons – and a vendor who has a dark idea about how to use Lois’s unique sourdough starter.

Although the plot moves slowly at first, it soon accelerates and finishes with a conclusion that truly provides closure. However, I definitely wanted to see more of Lois’s internal journey, especially at key moments like quitting her job. Nevertheless, this lack did not significantly change the experience – Sourdough, still forced me to distance myself from the comfortable world I know and consider larger things.

Sourdough is less an entertaining read than a meditation on life in all forms and the impact of technological progress. If you can get past the premise (which, I will admit, I was skeptical of at first), Sourdough will make you contemplate that which we know but never stop to really observe. – Tasha M. ’20

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The Golden Spiders by Rex Stout (review by Connie M. ’17)

The Golden Spiders (Nero Wolfe, #22)The Golden Spiders by Rex Stout
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Golden Spiders started out with an intriguing hook but it didn’t really follow through. The plot also dragged on and did not feel resolved at the end. Detective Wolfe accepts a case for a cheap price (one of the main factors that actually convinced me to read the book), but really he only does it because he is paid his usual high price by someone else who is also involved in the case. Thus, unlike other popular classic detective stories (e.g. Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple), the detective is investigating the case largely because of the payment and not because they love the job (which, in my opinion, makes them better detectives). Furthermore, Wolfe’s assistant, Archie Goodwin, often runs errands for Wolfe that are promising in terms of leading up to a plot twist, but when Wolfe finally explains the solution, little of the rest of the book seems to relate to the answer. Anyway, this book seemed promising, but really didn’t live up to expectations set by the summary.- Connie M. ’17

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Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (review by Ms. Green, Harker teacher)

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary UnderbellyKitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Warning! This book will make you think twice about the restaurant industry! Anthony Bourdain’s story of his start in the restaurant industry includes some tips of the restaurant trade as well as a colorful narrative of how he climbed the ranks. He talks about how chefs interact with each other, how menus are decided, the hierarchy of a restaurant, and how it takes a special personality to survive as a professional cook. One of my take-aways? Beware the special menu items! Kitchen Confidential does contain strong language as Chef Bourdain is painting a picture of the hard life in the restaurant business, but I recommend it to those who want to learn more about the food industry and how restaurants work behind the scenes. I appreciated learning about how kitchens operate and how hard it is to make it in this industry. – Ms. Green, Harker teacher

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Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan (review by Eddie S. ’17)

Food Rules: An Eater's ManualFood Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nowadays, deciding what and what not to eat is all about the nutrition facts, right? Well, Michael Pollan, in his book, Food Rules, makes it known that the nutritional label is actually not essential for maintaining a healthy eating lifestyle. In his 140 page book of 64 basic policies are three main concepts. Pollan drastically simplifies the process of picking the best foods to eat by stripping away indecipherable. I absolutely loved the various epigrams, proverbs, and adages scattered throughout the book. One of the most down-to-earth books I have ever read, Food Rules, is brief, brainy, and brilliant. Simply irresistible. -Eddie S. ’17

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The Dinner by Herman Koch (review by Meilan S. ’17)

The DinnerThe Dinner by Herman Koch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ready for a literary treat? The Dinner, by Herman Koch, follows two Dutch couples meeting for dinner to discuss a moral dilemma revolving around their sons. Reading about four adults eating for an entire book may not sound appetizing, but The Dinner is a riveting page-turner. In a style characteristic of the postmodern era, Koch focuses more on character development than plot twists like explosions and bar fights (not to say there aren’t any of those). Even though it takes place over a very short period of time, the book manages to stay interesting by incorporating multiple flashbacks. It even has humorous moments thanks to the narrator’s amusing view of the world, despite the heavy subject matter. The Dinner is a fantastic book full of surprises that will make you think. The Dinner will not entice everyone. Lovers of action/adventure/romance/fantasy may have difficulty finishing it. – Meilan S. ‘17

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