Great Reads

The Unbinding of Mary Reade – ARC Review







Publish Date 
: 6/19/18
Author: Miriam McNamara
Started: 3/30/18
Finished: 3/31/18
Rating : ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Summary from Goodreads:

A clever, romantic novel based on the true story of a girl who disguised herself as a boy to sail with the infamous pirates Anne Bonny and Calico Jack—and fell in love with Anne Bonny.

There’s no place for a girl in Mary’s world. Not in the home of her mum, desperately drunk and poor. Not in the household of her wealthy granny, where no girl can be named an heir. And certainly not in the arms of Nat, her childhood love who never knew her for who she was. As a sailor aboard a Caribbean merchant ship, Mary’s livelihood—and her safety—depends on her ability to disguise her gender.

At least, that’s what she thinks is true. But then pirates attack the ship, and in the midst of the gang of cutthroats, Mary spots something she never could have imagined: a girl pirate.

The sight of a girl standing unafraid upon the deck, gun and sword in hand, changes everything. In a split-second decision, Mary turns her gun on her own captain, earning herself the chance to join the account and become a pirate alongside Calico Jack and Anne Bonny.

For the first time, Mary has a shot at freedom. But imagining living as her true self is easier, it seems, than actually doing it. And when Mary finds herself falling for the captain’s mistress, she risks everything—her childhood love, her place among the crew, and even her life.

Breathlessly romantic and brilliantly subversive, The Unbinding of Mary Reade is sure to sweep readers off their feet and make their hearts soar.  Continue reading “The Unbinding of Mary Reade – ARC Review”

Great Reads

Every Note Played

every note played

Publish Date : 3/20/2018
Author: Lisa Genova
Started: 3/25/18
Finished: 3/29/18
Rating : ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I received an advanced copy of Every Note Played from Netgalley, Simon & Schuster, and author Lisa Genova in exchange for an honest review. I’m five days past publish date but I wish I read it sooner! All opinions are my own.

This book took me much longer to read than my previous books but NOT because I did not like it. Get this, I am on my Spring Break and am beyond busier than when I am working. For some reason, this week has been beyond unbearable for me. I’ve written two grad school papers totaling to about 15 pages and four discussion posts totaling to about two pages. Although I am on Spring Break, four of my other locations in the city are not so I’ve still had to supervise and have written about 25 long emails to my staff in the last three days, and I even had to go into a school yesterday to do an assessment. I’ve written four IEP’s, and organized the rest of my IEP’s through May 1st. I got bedroom furniture delivered, the same exact piece, for the fifth time (DO NOT BUY ANYTHING FROM BOB’S DISCOUNT FURNITURE) With all of this, I’ve managed to do quite a few load of laundry, rearrange my bedroom,  cleaned and bleached the entire kitchen, went grocery shopping, and still made dinner every night. I’m booked until I go back next Tuesday. I really just want to have a day off for myself. Ugh, enough complaining for me because we’re about to read about some real problems.

Summary from Simon & Schuster:

An accomplished concert pianist, Richard received standing ovations from audiences all over the world in awe of his rare combination of emotional resonance and flawless technique. Every finger of his hands was a finely calibrated instrument, dancing across the keys and striking each note with exacting precision. That was eight months ago.

Richard now has ALS, and his entire right arm is paralyzed. His fingers are impotent, still, devoid of possibility. The loss of his hand feels like a death, a loss of true love, a divorce—his divorce.

He knows his left arm will go next.

Three years ago, Karina removed their framed wedding picture from the living room wall and hung a mirror there instead. But she still hasn’t moved on. Karina is paralyzed by excuses and fear, stuck in an unfulfilling life as a piano teacher, afraid to pursue the path she abandoned as a young woman, blaming Richard and their failed marriage for all of it.

When Richard becomes increasingly paralyzed and is no longer able to live on his own, Karina becomes his reluctant caretaker. As Richard’s muscles, voice, and breath fade, both he and Karina try to reconcile their past before it’s too late.

Poignant and powerful, Every Note Played is a masterful exploration of redemption and what it means to find peace inside of forgiveness.

Continue reading “Every Note Played”

Great Reads

The Hate U Give

for wordpress
Publish Date : 2/28/2017
Author: Angie Thomas
Started: 3/22/18
Finished: 3/24/18
Rating : ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Summary from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Continue reading “The Hate U Give”

Great Reads

Macbeth —ARC Review Out April 10, 2018







Macbeth by Jo Nesbø
Publish Date : 4/10/2018
Started: 3/17/18
Finished: 3/21/18
Rating : ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I received an advanced copy of Macbeth from Netgalley and Crown Publishing in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Summary from Amazon:

Set in the 1970s in a run-down, rainy industrial town, Jo Nesbo’s Macbeth centers around a police force struggling to shed an incessant drug problem. Duncan, chief of police, is idealistic and visionary, a dream to the townspeople but a nightmare for criminals. The drug trade is ruled by two drug lords, one of whom—a master of manipulation named Hecate—has connections with the highest in power, and plans to use them to get his way.

Hecate’s plot hinges on steadily, insidiously manipulating Inspector Macbeth: the head of SWAT and a man already susceptible to violent and paranoid tendencies. What follows is an unputdownable story of love and guilt, political ambition, and greed for more, exploring the darkest corners of human nature, and the aspirations of the criminal mind.

Continue reading “Macbeth —ARC Review Out April 10, 2018”

Great Restaurants

Fortune Cookie -Medford, NJ

Who doesn’t love Chinese food? Takeout is obviously amazingly convenient but sometimes you just want to sit down and be served. There aren’t a ton of great Chinese restaurants for this purpose.

I found Fortune Cookie after going to its neighbor “Cucina Illiano”. That’s a whole different review 😋😋

My boyfriend had gone and said that he used to get takeout here once in a while. We met my parents there and it’s been love ever since.

They put crunchy noodles on every table either duck sauce and homemade mustard which is spicy and delicious! I also love that they put a bowl of chinese cabbage on the table. It’s so good. I’ve tried to replicate it but mine always comes out too wet with not the exact flavor.

I’ve had their walnut chicken, generals chicken, and recently their pan fried noodles with pork. The dish was so big. I was definitely happy with this choice and I’ll be getting it again for sure.

Walnut Chicken

Now, I know I said this is a Chinese restaurant, but they serve sushi and some Japanese dishes. Their Sushi prices average about $.50 – $1.00 more. Get it anyway! It’s some of the freshest tasting sushi that I’ve had AND is the fullest roll I’ve ever had. There is so much filling by in these and they’re huge! So delicious. I usually get a roll as an appetizer and then a Chinese dish. It’s the best of both worlds.

I absolutely adore this spicy tuna roll.

You can find them at:
200 Tuckerton Road
Medford, NJ 08055
( it is the old Murphy’s shopping center)

Sorry for the darker pictures. They were from before I got my cool flash device for my iPhone during a different visit!

Now what are you waiting for? Go get some bombdotcom Chinese food!

Great Reads

Walls of Silence

walls of silence

Walls of Silence by Ruth Wade
Publish Date : 3/11/2018
Started: 3/13/18
Finished: 3/17/18
Rating : ⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

I received an advanced copy of Walls of Silence from Netgalley and Bloodhound Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Summary from Goodreads:

The patient has a story that isn’t told and which no one knows of. It is the secret, the rock against which he is shattered. Carl Jung

The Great War is over but for Edith Potter an equally devastating conflict is about to begin.

She is unhinged by a secret so terrible her conscious mind doesn’t acknowledge it.

It is 1927 and Dr Stephen Maynard is using the new science of psychoanalysis to restore her sanity.

From his first meeting with her in the lunatic asylum, Dr Stephen Maynard is determined to bring her back to reality. During the long challenge, her disturbed behavior forces him to confront his limitations – already severely stretched by the presence of someone prepared to use whatever weapons they can to ensure she maintains her silence. Continue reading “Walls of Silence”

Great Reads

Not That I Could Tell – Out March 27

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser
Publish Date : 3/27/2018
Started: 3/10/18
Finished: 3/13/18
Rating : ⭐️⭐️

I received an advanced copy of Not That I Could Tell from Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Summary from Goodreads:

When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.

By Monday morning, one of them is gone.

Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce—and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her—and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions—especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.

As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors—and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.

Continue reading “Not That I Could Tell – Out March 27”

Great Restaurants

Engimono Sushi – Philadelphia

Hey Philly natives, some good news! Fairmount finally has its very own sushi spot. I was very lucky to have been invited to try some of their best for a review last night. Thanks to Chef Cherryl for the invite! I’ll post her Instagram below for you to check out some of her awesome posts and eats! Also a HUGE thanks to Albert, Angeline, and Annie for hosting us.

If you are a friend of mine reading this, you know that my last meal on this earth would be a spicy tuna roll and a kani salad. Sushi should be my middle name. Quite honestly, my parents and boyfriend need to tell me “anything but sushi” when they ask me where I want to go. If it was up to me, it’d be sushi all day every day. So when the invite came, I knew even if I had to move my schedule around, I would do it. And I’m glad that I did just that even if I’ll be working hard to finish some Of my masters papers and grading this week! What can I say? I’m addicted to sushi. There are way worse things obviously to be addicted to.

First things first, it’s new so it’s very clean. All restaurants obviously should be clean but I won’t lie, I’ve had some of my best meals in places that may look sketchy at first. Not here. It’s bright and clean and decorated nicely. It’s modern looking with sleek white counters at the sushi bar with little glass windows to peek at the fish. Super cute! There are color changing lights in the ceiling. The shiny backsplash is awesome. I’m biased though because I have the same in my kitchen! Lol.

THE FOOD WAS SO GOOD! I got to taste sooooo much. Good thing I was told to eat very little throughout my day. Either way, I would have eaten it all and worried about the tummy ache later. No seriously, that’s what I do.

We tried soooo much so I’ll highlight my favorites, appetizers first. I’ll start with the sushi pizza. A tortilla with spicy tuna, avocado, and masago drizzled with spicy mayo and eel sauce. I could have eaten three of these alone. The tortilla never got soggy waiting for us to start and the flavors were awesome.

Saweed salad, you either love it or hate it. I’m an in betweener since I really need to be in the mood. I had a few bites and it was good. It was served over julienned cucumbers which made it a step above the rest for me. Next time I make this for lunch, it’s going over cucumbers.

The sushi dumplings were a favorite of mine. There are only two to a plate but they’re STUFFED! We butchered them up into pieces so the six of us could try and each bite still had a lot of filling. The dumplings were filled with spicy crab, avocado, and crunch all wrapped in tuna. I’ve had these at my favorite sushi restaurant in Jersey, Kabuki, and a little birdie may have told me that Kabuki and Engimono are closely related 😉.

Now for the dinner. We had a variety of specialty rolls and sashimi. The sashimi was very fresh. I loved the white tuna. My favorite specialty roll was the Osaka roll. We aren’t doing our due diligence because we couldn’t find it on the menu so we thought maybe it was the Yazuka roll but we aren’t sure. Either way, it was awesome and I’ll point out which one it is below:

It’s the roll pictured on the left. The roll on the right was the Godzilla Roll (also yummy). Not pictured in this photo was the Romantic Roll and A 76ers Roll (Philly loves our sports).

Last but not least is the chirashi bowl we had. The fish was all fresh and the presentation was gorgeous. Some other foodies there pictured it better than I got but so good nonetheless. Engimono really puts pride in their presentation and it shows!

I can’t recommend Engimono Sushi enough. They can be found at:
1811 Fairmount Ave
Philadelphia PA 19130

Make sure you follow myself and the other foodies who tried out this place and check out their thoughts!:

@littleteacherbigappetite (me)

And of course, start following @engimonosushi

Great Reads


Educated by Tara Westover
Publish Date : 2/20/2018
Started: 3/8/18
Finished: 3/9/18
Rating : ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I received a copy of Educated from Netgalley and Random House in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Summary from Goodreads:

Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag.” In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard.

Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent.

Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

Continue reading “Educated”

Great Recipes

Keilbasa Stew

I love to cook things that are fast. This keilbasa stew is just that! I honestly use canned ingredients so that it’s done within 10 minutes BUT you could definitely use fresh and I am sure it would come out even more amazing! I’ll post pictures of the canned brand ingredients I use to make this delicious stew. The ingredients below are pretty standard but I’ll also throw in green pepper or whatever else I have in the fridge that I’m getting rid of. Additions obviously enhance the flavor. I recently had a tiny bit of small shrimp to cook up from a previous recipe that I had made. I added them this time with some olive oil and garlic before adding everything else and it was delicious!

Continue reading “Keilbasa Stew”