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#Unstoppable Pizza & #GrasshopperJungle by Andrew Smith & ate by @AustinSzerba

Grasshopper Jungle… it’s #unstoppable


Is it February 24th already? Where in the world has this month gone? I was to wrapped up in rethinking my personal history, creating an #unstoppable lifestyle and thinking about how I was going to tell and create my own slice of opinion within this bright green blockbuster young adult book’s launch. I totally lost track of time. But here I sit, with a pile of notes, favorite quotes and still catching my breath after finishing this last month.

I still am at the WTF stage of how blown away I am and though I have said this about many books this one broke the barrier of awesomeness for me. Don’t get me wrong, the others were amazing, after all I said so, so it is the truth. But books like this, these change the world. Grasshopper Jungle is on it’s way of becoming something of legend, and I am guessing just like The Chocolate War, (which is actually mentioned within Grasshopper Jungle), this book will end up not only becoming a literary success, but also on some staunch Lutheran High School’s banned book list. Which for me, usually means the book is a book that MUST be read. So go forth and obtain your copy, if you can. They already are on their second printing and it has not even hit the shelves in the UK!

What can I say which everyone else has not already said. This author blew my mind in The Marbury Lens and he has done it again here. With Grasshopper Jungle and a story about everything, Andrew Smith has taken my breath away. I cried, I cringed and most of all I laughed so much I caused myself to throw up on three occasions. Geoff had to physically remove the book from my hands and hold my hair back while I still laughed and kept heaving I  laughed so hard. It also made me think a lot. I ended up talking to my elder boy about his own confusing teenage years. A gay man now, he was a confused boy who loved a boy and a girl too. It made me think a lot… good books should do that. (sniffling.. damn I am crying now…)

Where was I… OH! You all have probably read tons of reviews and exclamations about how amazing of a read Grasshopper Jungle is and this is going to be one more of those reviews. I don’t think I can top the New York Times calling this book “A Literary Joy to Behold!” Ummm how do I top that? Many folks say Andrew writes outside the box, I don’t argue with this. I will argue, however, this book is a story which fits right into what the world and “boxes” that surround every teenage kid.. well that and a few horny six foot praying mantis’ … and ummm pizza (hey, I am going to be talking about that later on, had to throw it in.. bear with me!)

Austin Szerba (he’s polish… it’s in the history!) is a typical teenage boy who has a best friend Robby and a girlfriend Shann and he loves them both. A teen who constantly is thinking about the world around him and…well…. sex. In Austin’s case he is also obsessive about history.. well… and sex. Every teenage boy is confused, even if he is not like Austin or my son and unsure about his sexual orientation, he is thinking about sex. Confused why smoking a cigarette on the roof of one of the shops on main-street or eating a slice of pizza makes him horny. Or why the smell of maple syrup can cause you to get a boner. Any man that tells me he did not think about sex in a hyper-drive fashion after puberty kicked in is a liar. (I polled every man I know, including my 72 year old father. Boy that was an awkward conversation starter!).

“Everyone on every road that crossed beneath the point of my pen was always going to do the same things over and over and over.

I was confused.

How could I be in love with a girl ‘and’ a boy, at the same time?

I was trapped forever.

‘You know what I mean.”
― Andrew SmithGrasshopper Jungle

OMG-quote-1Wait, don’t click away, this is not just what the book is about, but it is what Austin does think about a lot. Are you back?? Because I am going to be doing pizza too, straight from the book! OK NOW LISTEN, this book is about everything and like the book says “Good books are always about everything“. Andrew Smith writes this and it is the truth. He writes from Austin’s perspective, because this  “This is history, and it is also the truth.” Heck the character’s voices are even used to explain what we are reading at times:

Shann tells Austin, “I love how, whenever you tell a story, you go backwards and forwards and tell me everything else that could possibly be happening in every direction, like an explosion.” ― Andrew SmithGrasshopper Jungle

Just picture it, you were a teen once… a kid sitting in his boxers with his toes buried in his best friend’s (the dog that is) furry belly as he writes down what happens in his world. He talks about his history, the world’s history as it happens, his brother’s history and his grandfather’s history… etc.. etc.. etc.. and most importantly he is the one who not only let the unstoppable six-foot tall mutant praying mantises out of the bag, so to speak, but he also is tasked by himself to write it all down so we would know why we are no longer at the top of the food chain, and why never to eat a lot of pancakes with maple syrup. “You know what I mean.”

Gee, I was going to make this simple as in… the whole review was going to be:

Holy Shit! Buy this book, you won’t be sorry… that is all!

As I mentioned above, Andrew Smith writes outside the box, he is accused and praised for it. It isn’t a fluffy book, it’s vulgar at times, crass and everything else which would cause the church lady to wet herself. BUT, and I MEAN IT with capital letters and lots of obnoxious exclamation points.. BUT THIS BOOK, this brilliant book is a must read… It is the truth of a typical teenage boys life! Well that mixed in with six-foot praying mantis’, pizza, sex, genetic experiments, pill popping mothers, two-headed babies, banned books, history and confusion. The truth is in this book, in the history of Grasshopper Jungle or for this explanation, a box of a confused teenage boy who is an amateur historian living in Ealing, Iowa where the corn grows just as unstoppable as the brilliance within the pages of the history of how the world ended.. I think this quote from the book captures Andrew’s distinctive voice and wraps it up in a nice bright green bow:

“I was going to do something I had never done, and see things I could not understand and never believed existed.

This is history, and it is also the truth.”
― Andrew SmithGrasshopper Jungle

#Unstoppable Pizza & #GrasshopperJungle by Andrew Smith & ate by @AustinSzerbaGrasshopper Jungle
by Andrew Smith
Pages: 399
Published by Dutton Children's, Penguin
on February 11, 2014
Genres: Literary Fiction, Young Adult
Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Book Depository • • Goodreads •

In the small town of Ealing, Iowa, Austin and his best friend, Robby, have accidentally unleashed an unstoppable army. An army of horny, hungry, six-foot-tall praying mantises that only want to do two things.

This is the truth. This is history.
It’s the end of the world. And nobody knows anything about it.
You know what I mean.

Funny, intense, complex, and brave, Grasshopper Jungle brilliantly weaves together everything from testicle-dissolving genetically modified corn to the struggles of recession-era, small-town America in this groundbreaking coming-of-age stunner.

LOOK~ This is the UK distributor for Penguin!

If that didn’t convince you? Look who is reading it! The man who claims there are no good books written anymore…




Wait… wait… I promised #unstoppable pizza and I won’t let you down! It is, after all…


Mama’s Kitchen Mondays


“You should never name a pizza join Stan’s”


The Midwest style is usually round, very thin, very crisp while still being tender-flaky, and is party- or tavern-cut into the grid. I learned how to make pizza when I was a young mom of the aforementioned eldest son, living in Kansas. Which, by the way was also the place where I ate the best Chinese potstickers I have ever had…. but we are here to talk about pizza. In Grasshopper Jungle there is a pizza joint called Stan’s Pizza. I knew from the moment I read it I wanted to share the first crust recipe I learned to make and how to make the infamous Stanpreme from the book. Or, Satanspreme as Austin points out..


Many of you have had pizza’s like this in a pub or a bar or in the old-fashioned style pizzeria. You can add fresh veggies and top-notch toppings but it won’t matter if you use canned mushrooms and bulk pepperoni, the crust is where it is at. Stan lives in Iowa, and with his red and white checkered plastic tablecloths and battered aluminum cutter pan in the middle, his Stanpreme is world-renowned, at least in Ealing.

5 from 1 reviews
Stanpreme (Midwest Style Pizza)
Quantities are for a single serving and for the restaurant you will be launching in Iowa next month. (I bet Andrew will have a new pizza joint launched in his name called Stan's Pizzeria).
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 3½ cups All-purpose flour - (weighed 16 oz.) - Bulk 32 lbs.
  • ¾ cup of 90'F Water - (5.8 oz) - Bulk 11.5 lbs
  • ¾ tsp of Vegetable oil - (0.6 oz.) (Stan uses Corn Oil, but well..#unstoppablecorn, it's Iowa) - BULK 18 oz.
  • 1½ tsp. Sugar - (0.2 oz) - Bulk 6 oz.
  • 1 Salt (0.2 oz.) (I use fine sea salt but Stan uses Morton's from his 50 lb bulk bag he got at Costco). Bulk - 6 oz.
  • 1½ Active Dry Yeast - (0.2 oz) - Bulk 6 oz.
  • Corn Meal
  • Toppings
  • I am not going to tell you not to use fresh ingredients, because obviously for the veggies of a Stanpreme single you may want too, but if you want to do it like Stan you will have to hit Costco and get a bulk bag of onions, a gallon of sliced olives, some bulk green peppers you have chopped before hand and froze, some good ol' sliced pepperoni and homemade sausage.. oh ya! Stan does his own sausage, the pork is fed with #unstoppablecorn .. "This is history, and it is also the truth" But if you want you can use fresh just fake it no one will know how good the toppings are because the crust will knock their socks off.
  • Seriously the trick with thin pizza is less is more! Your sauce needs to be lightly applied, just to keep the ingredients in and to flavor the dough. Your cheese needs to be a nice blend and no more then ¾ cup of cheese. I will agree with Stan on one thing, and that is prepping the dough!
  1. Food processor (Single Pizza) instructions: Place all of the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor fitted with its steel cutting blade.
  2. Process without using the pulse for approximately 30 seconds until everything is thoroughly mixed and the dough resembles moist cornmeal.
  3. Pulse three times (this is Stan's trick because three is his lucky number).
  4. Empty contents onto a work surface and, using your hands, press the mixture into a dough ball.
  5. BULK - *Stand mixer instructions: Pour 75% of the water and all of the oil into the mixer bowl.
  6. In a second bowl, mix the yeast with the remaining water and allow to proof for 5 minutes.
  7. In the bowl, add flour, salt, sugar, and the yeast mixture.
  8. Mix on the slowest speed for 10 minutes.
  9. Rising: After proper mixing, the dough will be very stiff. Place dough into a sealed bucket and allow to rise for a minimum of 9 hours at room temperature. Dough can be held and used for up to 18 hours after the initial 9 hour rise.
  10. Rolling/Sheeting: I am not stan so I don't have an electric sheeter so I have to roll mine out with a rolling pin. Again the dough will be very stiff and will be difficult to roll by hand. Sheet dough to approximately 1/16? thickness.
  11. Prep: Place sheeted dough over a cutter pan lightly oiled (corn oil for stan!), sprinkle with corn meal, just a touch, press into place, and dockhat roller with the pokey sharp things you found in your grandmother's drawer. The one that is now in the bedside table.. err.. ummm... the point is to make sure you don't have bubbles.
  12. Use a rolling pin (or the side of your beer bottle after you drink it) to trim off the excess dough and then drape over the side of the cutter pan. (A cutter pan is a shallow pan pizza pan, you are rolling the dough out thin so it will have an edge, this is a true pie but THIN)
  13. Apply sauce, shredded cheese, and toppings.
  14. Bake in a preheated 475° F oven for approximately 10 minutes until crust is crisp and golden brown.
NOTE The dough will be very dry, it will not form a ball; it will be just as above and be lose and crumbly. This is what makes it a Midwestern pie! So if it is gooey you used to hot of water, or to much.I added the weight above because I use a scale for many of my bread dishes, especially this one.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: Single size or BULK, what can I say! Calories: Drink a Diet Coke, it will counteract any calories Fat: see above

About Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Winger (Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, and Shelf Awareness—an Amazon “Best of the Year,” and an ALA Top 10 for 2014) and The Marbury Lens (A YALSA BFYA, and Starred reviews and Best of the Year in both Publishers Weekly and Booklist). Grasshopper Jungle has also won the 2014 Boston Globe Horn Book Award for fiction. He is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world.

His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. Grasshopper Jungle, a starred novel by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Shelf Awareness, is his seventh novel. Just recently the New York Times called it a "Literary joy to behold!"  and Sony has will be releasing the movie in 2016. 100 Sideways Miles is his 8th novel published by Simon and Schuester.

Andrew lives in a very remote area in the mountains of Southern California with his family, two horses, two dogs and three cats. He doesn’t watch television and occupies himself by writing, bumping into things outdoors, and taking ten-mile runs on snowy trails.

Thanks Dutton Books for sending me a review copy, and to Lady Reader’s Bookshelf for letting me to be a part of this tour from the creation of the banner to helping … Amy is the bomb! Thanks guys! Enter the giveaways from myself AND from Amy!


Giveaway: US ONLY

  • Print copy of Grasshopper Jungle & an Official #Unstoppable T-shirt.
  • $10 Amazon GC or Paypal Cash (from me!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open to ages 13 and up. No purchase necessary. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. You must be 13 or older to enter. All persons under 18 must have a confirmation letter from their parent(s). The winner will have 72 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway is sponsored by Penguin Books. GC/Paypal cash


From Lady Reader for all of you! #Unstoppable Prezzies!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Hah! Stan uses Corn Oil. LOL.

  2. An awesome acclaim to the book. If you laughed so hard you threw up, it must be amazing. And pizza…mmmm, my stomach is growling. Good thing you have Geoff to pry the book from your hands when you become too enthusiastic. A good guy indeed. 😉

  3. Awesome to hear (and read) about this cool book. It makes me think of the Buffy episode where the substitute teacher turned into a mantis and went after Xander in a really early season (1996?) . . . and then mixed up and formed into a wonderful new end-of-the-world concoction. Will read very soon. And, I grew up with this kind of perfect thin thin crust, cut in strips, the only way to enjoy it. Printed out to make the next time I hit the Yeast store. Wonderful Post.

    • Thanks Justin! I have tried it using a bit more water, I have two recipes. I thought living here I needed more water (desert climate). But the drier dough still worked better!


  4. looks amazing and hopefully smells as great!


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