Monday, August 24, 2020

Book Review: Nacho's Nachos


           
NACHO'S NACHOS
The Story Behind the 
World's Favorite Snack
by
Sandra Nickel
Illustrated by 
Oliver Dominguez
Genre: Picture Book / Nonfiction / Food History / Latinx Interest  
Publisher: Lee & Low Books 
Publication Date: August 11, 2020 
Number of Pages: 32
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NACHO’S NACHOS is the deliciously true story about how nachos were invented—about what happened when a regular customer asked Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya for something new, and there were no chefs in the kitchen. 
2020 is the eightieth anniversary of the invention, and Oliver Dominguez’s illustrations transport us back to the border of the Rio Grande in 1940, when Nacho’s quick thinking resulted in a snack now eaten everywhere from Texas to Paris to Hong Kong!
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Let me ask you, did you ever wonder where the incredibly delicious and wonderful tasting nachos came from? I never did either, I just enjoyed eating them as an app or as my main meal. I never thought about where this popular dish came from until I read Nacho's Nachos
 
 
First and foremost, this is a book aimed at children. It's a great book to help your kids learn about (probably) one of their most favorite food groups, nachos! Nacho's Nachos will not only entertain your kid, it'll help them learn a little piece of history as well.  Not only will children love this book, adults will find it's charm as well.

I admired the illustration of this book. The way the pictures are drawn remind me of the pictures when I go to an established Mexican Restaurant. Being Hispanic, I appreciated this attention to detail and could tell the author and illustrator gave great thought to this book. I see a trend of children's books go more towards simple drawing designs. While simple design definitely has it's purpose, I think the way the illustrator went for this book brings out that Mexican charm and flavor.
 
Any nacho lover will also enjoy finding out the simplicity of nachos back then. In today's world, especially in Texas, you can pretty much have nachos any way you want them. I usually create a nacho supreme where I top mine off with refried beans, ground beef, cheese (lots of cheese), tomatoes, onions, lettuce jalapenos, guacamole and more cheese. Back then, nachos were simply the chips, cheese and jalapenos. Nothing more and nothing less and yet people went crazy for them. Nachos are kind of like the evolution of a car if you think about it.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, even as an adult. I do not have any children as of yet, but will keep this on the small children's book section of my shelf when the time comes. If you have little ones, they will love this one. The illustrations are wonderful, the words are not complicated and it's an easy story to follow along with. And if you're ever on Jeopardy and they ask you a question about the history of nachos, you'll know the answer. Until next time, Happy Reading!





Sandra Nickel writes books and poetry for young readers. In 2020 and 2021, she has three books coming out: Nacho’s Nachos: The Story Behind the World’s Favorite Snack (Lee & Low), The Stuff Between the Stars: How Vera Rubin Discovered Most of the Universe (Abrams), and Breaking Through the Clouds: The Sometimes Turbulent Life of Meteorologist Joanne Simpson (Abrams). Sandra’s poetry can be found in SCOOP magazine. 
Sandra holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has presented workshops on writing for children and young adults throughout Europe and the United States. Sandra has twice won the Katherine Paterson Prize for picture books.
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Sunday, August 16, 2020

Book Review: The Secret of You and Me

 

THE SECRET OF YOU AND ME
by
MELISSA LENHARDT
  • Genre: Women's Fiction / Romance  
  • Publisher:  Graydon House (Harlequin) 
  • Date of Publication: August 4, 2020 
  • Number of Pages: 352  
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True love never fades—and old secrets never die . . . 
Nora hasn’t looked back. Not since she fled Texas to start a new life. Away from her father’s volatile temper and the ever-watchful gaze of her claustrophobically conservative small town, Nora has freed herself. She can live—and love—however she wants. The only problem is that she also left behind the one woman she can’t forget. Now tragedy calls her back home to confront her past—and reconcile her future. Sophie seems to have everything—a wonderful daughter, a successful husband, and a rewarding career. Yet underneath that perfection lies an explosive secret. She still yearns for Nora—her best friend and first love—despite all the years between them. Keeping her true self hidden hasn’t been easy, but it’s been necessary. So when Sophie finds out that Nora has returned, she hopes Nora’s stay is short. The life she has built depends on it. But they both find that first love doesn’t fade easily. Memories come to light, passion ignites, and old feelings resurface. As the forces of family and intolerance that once tore them apart begin to reemerge, they realize some things may never change—unless they demand it.
                          
PRAISE FOR THE SECRET OF YOU AND ME: “A compelling story of second chances and being true to yourself.” —Harper Bliss, bestselling author of Seasons of Love
“Lenhardt convinces in her portrayal of the conflict between desire and control.” —Publishers Weekly
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(Personalized/signed copies available through Interabang)
A portion of royalties are going to the It Gets Better Project (Click for more details.)




I am starting this review off in a very positive note. This was probably one of my most favorite fiction books of 2020 so far. It was definitely a breath of fresh air from what I have been reading this year and I really enjoyed it the whole time.

The way the author created her characters was so well done. There are some characters that you grow to love in this 340 page novel, including our main characters Nora and Sophie. Then there are characters that you grow to completely disgust, such as Charlie and Brenda. All characters were relatable and everyone I could pinpoint someone that I know or knew, in real life, who was like each character or at least had similarities. All characters made you feel something, and that shows powerful writing.

I loved the story line and feel that it is very relevant in today's society. From just reading the synopsis, you'll come to find this is a story about Lesbian lovers that have sort of a Romeo and Juliet tone going on. They are not only Lesbians, but they are Lesbians in a small town in the middle of now where Texas. Your anticipation while reading through is like waiting for a balloon to pop in a room full of needles. So not only will the characters keep you engage, but the story line definitely will keep your attention.

"'It's different when it's someone you love, isn't it?'
    'Yeah.'"
 
 
Besides the main story line, there are also some great and heavy side stories and relationships that are just as relevant to anyone who reads this book. There's the relationship between Emmadean, Nora's caretaker growing up, and Nora. Then there's Nora and her sisters Mary's rocky relationship and Sophie and her daughter's up and down relationship. There's a good amount of other things to explore and discover that help our main characters navigate their world and how they deal with their emotions and their life.
 
Overall, I have become a new fan of Melissa Lenhardt and I think you will be too. The Secret of You and Me has a compelling plot, great characters, relatable and will keep you engaged until the very end. I give this a 5 out of 5 and will recommend this read to anyone. Until next time, Happy Reading!



Melissa Lenhardt is a women’s fiction, mystery, and historical fiction author. Her debut mystery, Stillwater, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest, and Sawbones, her historical-fiction debut, was hailed as a "thoroughly original, smart and satisfying hybrid, perhaps a new sub-genre: the feminist Western" by Lone Star Literary Life. The New York Times called her sixth novel, Heresy, “An all-out women-driven, queer, transgender, multiracial takeover of the Old West." The Secret of You and Me, her seventh novel and her first contemporary women’s fiction novel, was published on August 4, 2020. When Melissa isn’t writing, she’s thinking, “I really should be writing,” and eating Nutella or peanut butter straight out of the jar. A lifelong Texan, she lives in the Dallas area with her husband, two sons, and two Golden Retrievers.
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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Rainy Thoughts: Getting Furloughed from Your Dream Job

Hey everyone! It has been a minute since I wrote a Rainy Thoughts post. If you're new here, I usually just write book reviews, but every now and then, I like to write about random other things that I may be thinking of, feeling, etc. I wanted to write about something that recently happened to me that I think others can relate too, especially now.


The Dream Job...


If you asked me what I wanted to do when I was in college, I had two answers for you. I wanted to either be a full-time, traveling author or I wanted to work in a job where I was doing marketing for events put on by the city and where I didn't have to be at my desk all day, possibly tourism. Lo and behold, I found that job. I was/kinda still kinda am, working for the San Antonio River Walk Association. I loved my job. I was out and about, meeting new people from different backgrounds, I was helping promote businesses to locals and tourists, I was doing marketing, and there would be days that I would be at my desk for 2 out of the 8 hour work day. It was beautiful. I really felt like I found my niche, like I was right where God wanted me to be at the moment.

And then Covid...

And then Covid happened. Our association is a non-profit in the tourism industry with events. We were not in that first round of furloughs and layoffs that happened back in March, but it seemed a bit inevitable that we would be affected. And about a week after celebrating my one year anniversary with the River Walk on June 24, we got the news we were being furloughed at the end of the week.

I literally went to my car during lunch, pulled out my leftover Peter Piper Pizza and cried a bit. I was doing what I wanted to do. I felt full-filled in my position, I was thriving. Now, it feels like I have to start over in a sense.

Temporary or New Dreams...

To some people, a job is just there to pay the bills. In a sense, I get that. I can't live off of hopes and dreams alone (that's why I'm not a full time traveling author yet), but happiness is a big part of my job decision. I need to feel that excitement and fulfillment in my job. I can't just have a job to have a job, because then it's not a career it's just me being a slave to money and looking at the clock non-stop wondering when I'm going to get off.

Now I am currently looking for new job opportunities, because it doesn't look like the River Walk will be needing me full-time anytime in the near future. I've applied to a couple of part-time, full-time, contract and temp jobs, but it feels weird. It feels like I am trying to find a new passion, a new dream, even if it is temporary or contracted.

What's Next?

I have no idea what or where I'll be in a few months from now, let alone a few weeks. I feel nervous, yet trying to look up. I'm still living, so there's some other purpose, some other job, for me to fulfill out there. I'm keeping the door to the River Walk open, but I'm also looking ahead to other doors because I may find something else that I find fulfills my passion. Maybe I'll do something amazing at my next job, or maybe I just find something temporary for now to pay the bills. Either way, I and everyone else who is in the same boat, we just gotta keep moving forward and we can't let this break us down. Keep moving with the waves and see where our boat of life lands.