Staff Book Reviews-Triston

Books Reviewed by Triston Kanode, Library Specialist



Chinese Takeout Cookbook

Author: Kwoklyn Wan

By: Triston Kanode, Library Specialist

Adult, 155 pages

The “Chinese Takeout Cookbook” features 74 recipes ranging from starters through to desserts.  The book features any full page pictures of the resulting dishes, adding to the visual appeal of the text.  From a chef’s point of view, the recipes are not overly difficult, break down the preparation step by step and leave room for variations and personal preferences.  Each receipt fits on a single page and typically calls for standard readily available ingredients.  While the book seems to be aimed at chefs with basic skills, such as; how to make “perfect steamed rice”, it also features elements for those interested in diving in a bit more deeply; such as how to season and maintain a cooking wok.

I made a dish from page 129; Egg Fried Rice.  It was basic and straight forward with good instructions that were limited to a page but clear at each step.  Incudes suggested additions which were interesting and I added shredded chicken to the base recipe

The Girl from the Other Side, Volume One

Author: Nagape

By: Triston Kanode, Library Specialist

YA Graphic Novel/Manga, 180 pages

“The Girl from the Other Side” places the reader into a world of two absolutes: the Inside and the Outside.  The Inside is the last stand of humanity, kept separate from the Outside by a great wall.  The Outside is the wilderness, full of cursed monsters that can corrupt and turn a human with only a touch.  As the danger from the curse is so great, humans even suspected of having the curse are executed and their bodies are abandoned outside the wall.  In order to protect the life of a child, she is smuggled, by her family, to the Outside, where she is found and cared for by a kind outsider.  Things are not necessarily as black and white, Inside or Outside, as they appear.

Bungo Stray Dogs, Series

Author: Kafka Asagiri; Art by Sango Harukawa

By: Triston Kanode, Library Specialist

Young Adult (older teen), over 170 pages

“Bungo Stray Dogs” follows Atsushi Nakajima, an orphan, as he is taken in by the Armed Detective Agency, an organization tasked with handling dangerous criminals and factions.  In this unique agency, each member is based on a famous literary figure and has a super power themed around the author they are named after.  The members us these powers, called “skills”, to carry out their missions.  As the story progresses, the agency faces off against skill users from the Mafia, as well as mysterious figures from a group called “The Guild”.  The volumes feature notes about the real life authors that inspired the characters, which I found very helpful, as many characters originate from Japanese literature.  It was also interesting to see members of “The Guild”, which come from North American literature, such as Margaret Mitchell, Nathaniel Hawthorne and John Steinbeck.

Fans of “My Hero Academia” and “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” may also enjoy this series.

Komi Can’t Communicate (Series) By Tomohito Oda

Young Adult Manga

Approx. 175 pages

Komi Can’t Communicate introduces readers to the apparently cold and aloof Shoko Komi. In reality, Komi is really just tongue tied, and unable to communicate with her classmates. During volume one, Tadano, a classmate, befriends Komi despite her silence, and learns about her dream to make one-hundred friends, the main plot of the story.

While Komi’s communication difficulties form the basis of the story and function as a device to move the plot, it is treated in a less serious manner than other series, such as A Silent Voice. Here, it is more comedic, and does not prevent Komi from functioning, as she is able to write notes to her friends and gesture to get her point across. While her character does develop over the events of the story, it is more of a school comedy than a dramatic series.

Otaku By Chris Kluwe

Adult Science Fiction Fantasy

349 pages

Otaku by Chris Kluwe opens with a scene that feels reminiscent of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, but soon pulls back into a dystopian world with powerful religions and corporations controlling the government, distribution of information, and strained water resources. Rather than focusing on the “Game” as in Ready Player One, Otaku focuses equally on the “real” and its many problems through main character, Ashley. Difficulties of being a competitive female “gamer” in a dystopian world are examined, with Ashley standing out as a heroine capable of holding her own.

Fans of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, and Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One will enjoy Ashley and her journey.

Date: 4/29/20

Eat Cheap but Eat Well

Author: Charles Mattocks

Pages: 194

Audience: Adult Non-fiction, Cookbook

Review: Chef Charles Mattocks presents the idea that inexpensive food need not be boring and bland, and encouraging home cooks with tasty and affordable recipes. The book is divided into sections that cover meats, pasta, seafood, salads, vegetarian dishes, soups, and desserts, all while staying affordable, around $4 per person. Along with the typical ingredient list and dish preparation, each recipe is accompanied by the approximate cost for 4 servings of the meal- ‘¢’ for cost of $5 for 4 servings, ‘$’ for under $7 per 4 servings, and ‘$$’ for $7 per 2 servings. This cookbook moves beyond plain dishes such as rice and beans, and helps home chefs expand their repertoire and introduce some variety and new dishes including Persian lamb with dried fruits, and baked salmon with mushrooms. Mattocks assembles a diversity of interesting, tasty, and affordable homemade dishes in Eat Cheap but Eat Well.

The Phoenicia Diner Cookbook

Author: Mike Cioffi, Chris Bradley, Sara B. Franklin

Pages: 258

Audience: Adult Non-fiction, Cookbooks

Review: The Phoenicia Diner Cookbook reflects the tastes and variety of diner customers- from all day breakfast to late night pies, featuring over 80 recipes. These items are divided between breakfast, lunch, main and side dishes, and desserts and drinks. While the book features diner staples such as buttermilk pancakes, turkey club sandwiches, and onion rings, unexpected items appear throughout its pages including kimchi-bulgogi sandwiches, grilled lamb pitas, and watermelon and feta salad mix with the classics. Large color illustrations accompany many of the recipes, along with anecdotes about the diner and the dishes. This cookbook is a good fit with any home chef looking to recreate some diner staples along with trying some potential future favorites.

Did you make something from this book?

Perfect Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Roll, page 36. The instructions are straightforward, laying out the ingredient list before breaking the process down into four simple steps. The book also offers particular instructions for cooking bacon and eggs, beneficial to new cooks and those trying new styles of food preparation.

Charlotte Street

Author: Donny Wallace

By: Triston Kanode, Library Specialist

Adult Fiction, 408 pages

“Charlotte Street” follows the interaction and aftermath of Jason Priestley’s brief connection with an unnamed woman after he helps her pick up her dropped belongings.  However, she leaves behind a camera, and Jason attempts to return the camera based only on the photos in contains.  With the help of his friends, Jason begins the journey to finding the woman, encountering and dealing with issues of past relationships, failed careers, and his own personal growth.  The book has a similar feeling to the film, “High Fidelity”, with the main character confronting past relationships and acknowledging their flaws which allows the characters to heal and grow.