The Alpha Box by Annie Dalton. Lonely teenager Asha finds a magic box, and is coached by the Goddesses contained within it to defeat the evil power of the nihilistic rock band, the Four Hoarsemen, who are turning teenagers into depressed zombie groupies (unsurprisingly, few people notice) as the first step in their plan to turn the world over to a flying saucer full of unseen aliens at a huge outdoor concert.

The realistic emotions and character interactions make this less ridiculous and more touching than it sounds.

Dustbin Baby by Jacqueline Wilson. A children’s book by a popular British writer. It’s been fourteen years since the newborn April was found in a dustbin, but she hasn’t remotely come to terms with her ignominious beginning. After a fight with her adopted mother, she sets off to try to connect with her past.

A sweet, poignant problem novel with at least one good surprise and a satisfying conclusion. The flashbacks to April’s childhood are darker than I’d expected, but since we know that things turned out all right for her, it’s probably not too disturbing for younger kids.

Don't Try This at Home: Culinary Catastrophes from the World's Greatest Chefs. An anthology of true stories of culinary disasters and panic in the kitchen, written by famous (and semi-famous) chefs. Like any theme anthology, some stories are better than others and many are similar to each other, but if the subject matter sounds amusing I can guarantee that it lives up to its theme. I often laughed aloud as I read.

In these stories, chefs are terrorized by rampaging meringues, make 400 French soldiers spit out their coffee, flood a car with gallons of Hollandaise sauce, accidentally contribute to the working of a medical miracle, discover new taste sensations when they drop the foie gras in the chocolate sauce, and (this happens several times) must come up with ingeniously hilarious methods of saving face when they drop or otherwise destroy a wedding cake. Remarkably, there is only one story about a food fight.

Some stories are gross and “This Whole Place is Slithering” is gruesome. Caveat emptor.

From: [identity profile]

Huh. Overall I was mildly disappointed with Don't Try This at Home and regretted getting it hardcover. As general rule, the stories didn't seem to count as catastrophes. Maybe I failed to properly appreciate/imagine just how bad some of the situations were.

The main story I remember is how they put lobster in insulated containers in a fridge, and the insulation meant the lobster didn't actually cool down, and thus lots of it spoiled, and they had to do triage to select out the lobster that they felt could still be served.

From: [identity profile]

Ah, but I obtained it from a library!

Perhaps the difference between disaster stories by pro and amateur chefs is that the pro chefs are much better at salvaging potential catastrophes.

From: [identity profile]

who are turning teenagers into depressed zombie groupies (unsurprisingly, few people notice)


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