The Vegetable Butcher by Cara Mangini

The Vegetable Butcher is a user-friendly, beautifully presented, and thorough reference on vegetables (and some fruit ‘vegetables’ such as tomatoes). From selection to varieties, preparation and then cooking tips, followed by recipes, this is a nice one-stop shop on a subject rarely covered in such detail. Of note, however, that only 1 in every 5 recipe has an image and most of the recipes have no introduction to tell about presentation, flavor, or even if it is an entree or side dish. The strength of the book is clearly as a reference rather than a recipe book.


The book breaks down as follows: Butchery basics (including care of knives) and pantry support (what else you’ll want to have ready). Then an alphabetical presentation of the vegetables, starting with artichokes and arugula and ending with winter squash and zucchini. An index at the end includes recipes by season and type and an index.

Each vegetable has a photographed picture intro page (perhaps more useful as a pretty graphic than necessarily identifying varieties of that item). The intro page includes a short write up, best season info, partner foods, varieties, selection, and storage. Because each vegetable only has 2 large images (1 from one of the recipes and this intro page), the intro pages are easy to find for referencing. Although the intro pages are a bit graphic-designy busy (so you have to search for info in the paragraph block design elements), there is a lot of great information contained within.

After the intro page comes the instructions on preparing (butchering) the vegetables. Nearly all instruction pages have small photographs to accompany the directions and notes about particularities of that vegetable. Following the butchery instructions are cooking methods – typically from sauteing to blanching or baking. Finally, each vegetable has 1-4 recipes using different varieties to best effect.

The book is beautifully presented with, as noted, a strong graphic design element. That makes the book easy to use as a reference and as a cookbook. Frustrating, though, were the recipes. They were all well done, and often included ‘sub recipes’ including vinaigrettes or sauces as well. But lack of introductions/descriptions/images left me puzzling at several – what they would look like, how they were supposed to taste, and even how they were to be served. I wasn’t sure if I was looking at a sauce or a soup, an entree or a side dish.

In all, this has proven to be an excellent resource. I wouldn’t say there are a lot of exotic vegetables – I was familiar with all but two or so. A lot of the ‘exotic’ vegetables would be variations of the more familiar staple for example. But for great tidbits – such as which spinach makes the best salads as opposed to best for cooking, or which herbs infuse best when solid and which should be chopped before using – then this is a great reference. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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Tokyo Ghoul 5 by Sui Ishida

Volume 5 completes “The Gourmet” arc, adds a chapter giving Rize’s backstory, and then begins a new arc about the Ghoul Investigators (introducing Juzo Suzuya). Sui enjoys juxtaposing the viciousness of the ghouls against what now looks to be similarly disturbing CCG. But at the same time, we’re given more insight into touka’s impressive Kagune.


Story: The Gourmet has taken a morbid interest in Kaneki – a rare treat he has saved from the restaurant in volume 4. He sets the perfect dinner – trapping both Kaneki and Nishio. Touka’s sudden appearance throws off his plans. But will ghouls who won’t feed on human flesh have enough power to stop the gourmet from killing them all? At the same time, the ghoul hunters recognize a serious problem in Ward 11 – now that there are no fighters left against the ghouls. Headquarters sends in the big guns – a really nasty piece of work named Juzo Suzuya and his partner, Shinohara.

This volume may not have quite the kicks of the first four but including a chapter on Rize’s backstory was a great addition. It leads up to the period in which she meets Kaneki but also helps bring more of the reasons behind the 11th Ward situation (and the sudden heightened interest in Kaneki’s Ward by the CCG). Kaneki learns a bit more about Rize but clearly he still has a long way to go before understanding his ‘progenitor’.

The battle in the church was well done, especially since we get more on Touka’s abilities. For once, Kaneki is pretty much out of the picture and it is Nishio and Touka who have to put a period on The Gourmet. Tsukiyama is suitably menacing and has quite the kagune himself.

In all, still scary but also still fascinating. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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Requiem Of The Rose King 3 by Aya Kanno

This tale of an intersex Richard III becomes more and more interesting with each volume. Kanno is definitely having a lot of fun with the whole medieval milieu following the end of the War of the Roses. While the first two volumes were a bit confusing owing to a huge array of characters, by this title the list is narrowing nicely. It may still be a huge shock to see an actual Gallery of London portrait compared to the lovely stylized manga character. But the appeal of this title is definitely reminiscent of seminal 1970s shoujo classics such as Rose of Versailles: The pertinent historical facts are there but a whole lot of drama is woven around them.


Former King Henry VI has regained lucidity through Richard; but if Henry’s insanity was a tragedy, his recovery is a national disaster. Abandoning wife Margaret of Anjou and disinherited son Edward, Henry seeks out the solace that Richard provides. Unfortunately, at this moment, Richard has to provide unwilling alibi to his licentious brother Henry V – who has decided to marry beneath status to widow Elizabeth of York. Her scheming, along with Margaret of Anjou’s, threaten to destroy all the happiness any of the York or Lancastrian men can achieve. Caught between the scheming are the Kingmaker – Earl of Warwick and a young but fierce Duke of Buckingham.

Anyone knowledgeable about this period of the War of the Roses can enjoy the liberties taken by Kanno to create her story. Sure, it is high drama through a modern sensibility. But Kanno has laid her groundwork correctly and the known facts are there for a somewhat supernatural mystery taking more emphasis from Shakespeare (with all the historical faults therein) rather than Wikipedia. Little details – such as the two young men (Richard and Edward) who would marry the same woman, Anne Neville, share a ‘kiss’ in a river rescue. Kanno enjoys her foreshadowing that the men would share much more in the future.

Those without knowledge of the period can sit back and enjoy the plot of schemes and the rise and fall of kings. Although we know for sure that Richard III was slightly hunched but not a cripple (or intersex, here) this is still a greatly enjoyable fictionalization of history. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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QQ Sweeper Volume 2 by Kyousuke Motomo

Admittedly, I wasn’t sold on the story from the first Volume – cleaning as a special attack? A broom as a weapon against demons? Pages devoted to cleaning tips? Somehow, watching our heroine ecstatically cleaning a toilet doesn’t necessarily make for a riveting scene. But with volume 2, the cleaning takes a back seat to finally bringing us the true story: a mysterious past for Fumi that may just tie directly in with “Q” Kyutaru as well.


Story: while Kyutaro agonizes over memories of Fuyu – a girl who kept him company when his family disappeared – and then disappeared herself. Fumi reminds him so much of her but he can’t understand why since both girls are so different. When a school friend attacks Fumi, the Sweeper team is brought in to exorcise him. But Fumi is sure she is the catalyst – a cursed girl. And with that realization comes a desperate bid to save the Sweepers by leaving them permanently.

The plot is making sense now and we’re finally get a taste of the Motomi’s writing strength. I absolutely adored Dengeki Daisy but admit it carried on much too long. I am hoping with QQ Sweeper, the story will stay focused on Fumi’s mysterious past and not go off on tangents. Certainly, this Volume 2 was a page turner and kept me interested to the end.

Motomi has a great way with romantic moments but she definitely spaces them out. With QQ Sweeper, her art has matured and there aren’t as many overly-busy small panels. There are parallels to Dengeki Daisy, yes, and certainly this story doesn’t stray too far from that mold (strong willed girl with mysterious link to bad things – and the strong willed guy who is going to protect/save her). But there’s a great story in here now and I am looking forward to seeing where it goes. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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The Demon Prince of Momochi House Vol 3 by Aya Shouto

Volume 3 surprised me in many ways: through the first two volumes, I was pretty much coasting on the pretty art and unsure if this would ever take off somewhere interesting. But the story is now coalescing into its own distinct tale; those worried that this was another Kamisama Kiss can relax – there is a gentleness but also a depth to Momochi House that make for a beautiful but very distinct read.


Story: Himari is trying to discover which one of her friends is supernatural – and why that person is in Momochi House. When the truth is finally revealed, it will lead to a trap specifically set for Aoi (rather than the Nue). Later, when Aoi invites Himari to a special spirit world banquet, the Nue’s purpose at Momochi House is revealed. Himari will find herself greatly entangled in much more than just a haunted house.

The story grew organically here; rather than a ‘monster-of-the-week’ showdown that would get old fast, we’re given a lot more about both the Nue and Aoi. Before volume 3, the difference in the two entities wasn’t always obvious; here, we now understand how great the transformation is between Aoi and Nue – and why Aoi tries to avoid it when possible. As well, Himari’s own supernatural strengths are starting to come to the fore. There are hints that both Aoi and Himari will be the catalyst to finally change the events in the supernatural world as well as at Momochi House. But honestly – for me it is all about the nuanced characterizations.

Of course, the art is lovely and a joy to read. But with Volume 3, I found I was far more engrossed in the storytelling and eagerly anticipating each new page. There is such a subtle maturity to the characters and the plot that is often hard to find in modern manga titles. I am now greatly looking forward to seeing where Volume 4 will take the story. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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The Dagger in The Desk by Jonathan Stroud

The Dagger In The Desk is a quick short story – not needed in order to go directly to reading The Hollow Boy but I nice interim quick ‘case’ for the team to solve. The added bonus ghost guide is welcome since the black and white drawings at the end provide perfect visualization for the entities discussed/encountered throughout the series. Worth it alone for the guide, honestly. But the short story is a nice 20 minute read or so as well.


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Maid-Sama 2 in 1, Volume 3

Maid-Sama is a manga that I feel is far better than its anime counterpart. The manga stays nicely grounded where the anime jumped the shark a bit and turned the characters manic and comic rather than heartfelt. It’s why I enjoy reading rather than watching this story.


With these 2 in 1 editions, we get two manga for the price a one – a good deal and a bit less space on the shelf. Volume 3 includes books 5 and 6. The story arc of 5 having to do with a wealthy rival attempting to take over Misaki’s Maid Cafe and all the trials she puts herself through in order to come out on top and protect her beloved workplace. Volume 6 introduces a character from Misaki’s past – a somewhat confused boy who has returned to her area in order to find ‘his Misaki’ again. Cue annoyed Usui.

As in the single books, this includes all the extras/sides from the author. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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