Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

Where are you guys? Text me back. That's the last message Carver Briggs will ever send his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. He never thought that it would lead to their death.

Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, a powerful judge is pressuring the district attorney to open up a criminal investigation.

Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a “goodbye day” together to share their memories and say a proper farewell.

Soon the other families are asking for their own goodbye day with Carver—but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these goodbye days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?

My thoughts-

Goodbye Days is the heartbreaking account of the aftermath of the deaths of a car full of teenage boys in a car accident that could have probably been prevented. Carver Briggs was the one who sent the text message and is dealing with the emotional trauma of feeling responsible for not just one of his friends, but all e of his best friends. He's also dealing with ostracism at school, and feeling blame from family members of his friends. It's a sad book, but one of the best ones I have read in a long time. I could really imagine a teenager feeling this way in a situation like this. The best part of the book is Carver's relationship with his friends grandmother, who gives him the idea for doing "goodbye days" and helps him kind of get through this situation as best he can. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA books or drama.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Party by Robyn Harding (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

In this stunning and provocative domestic drama about a sweet sixteen birthday party that goes horribly awry, a wealthy family in San Francisco finds their picture-perfect life unraveling, their darkest secrets revealed, and their friends turned to enemies.

One invitation. A lifetime of regrets.

Sweet sixteen. It’s an exciting coming of age, a milestone, and a rite of passage. Jeff and Kim Sanders plan on throwing a party for their daughter, Hannah—a sweet girl with good grades and nice friends. Rather than an extravagant, indulgent affair, they invite four girls over for pizza, cake, movies, and a sleepover. What could possibly go wrong?

But things do go wrong, horrifically so. After a tragic accident occurs, Jeff and Kim’s flawless life in a wealthy San Francisco suburb suddenly begins to come apart. In the ugly aftermath, friends become enemies, dark secrets are revealed in the Sanders’ marriage, and the truth about their perfect daughter, Hannah, is exposed.

My thoughts-

The Party is the type of book that grips you from the beginning and won't release you from it's clutches until you reach the conclusion. It is similar to novels like The Dinner and Big Little Lies, stories that break apart the façade of the perfect family and show the flaws of these characters as their worlds unravel. I have a hard time loving books where none of the characters are relatable, where none of the characters are likeable. I enjoyed the story and the suspense was spot on, but I can't love it because I don't love any of the characters. I did, however, really like it. The Party is one of those novels that would make a fantastic movie and I hope that one day it may be! I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys suspense novels.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Ready or Not! by Michelle Tam + Henry Fong (Cookbook Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

Ready or Not, it's a new cookbook from the James Beard award-nominees and New York Times best-selling creators of Nom Nom Paleo, the wildly popular blog, app, and best-selling cookbook!You know how it is: some days, you're fired up and ready to cook; other days, you dread the thought of making dinner. More often than not, you find yourself floating somewhere between inspiration and desperation. What's a crazy busy (but kind of lazy) home cook to do?

The answer: pick up this book. Ready or Not makes healthy Paleo home cooking a breeze, no matter if there's time to prepare or just minutes to spare. Whether you're a fastidious planner or a last-minute improviser, you'll find plenty of deliciously nourishing options, from make-ahead feasts to lightning-fast leftover makeovers. Presented in Nom Nom Paleo's deliriously fun comic book style, Ready or Not makes Paleo cooking easy, no matter how much time you have. In fact, this cookbook is organized into color-coded sections to match your readiness level:
GET SET! First, stock your kitchen with essential building blocks--from store-bought necessities to D.I.Y. ingredients that'll set you up for anytime cooking.READY! Got time to cook? Turn to these recipes for make-ahead meals and spectacular dishes like Pressure Cooker Bo Ssäm and Strawberry Almond Semifreddo!KINDA READY! Learn how to transform pantry staples and leftovers into impromptu meals that'll satisfy the most discriminating palates.NOT READY! Emergency meals can be delicious, too. In this section, you'll find super-fast recipes like savory stir-fries and sheet pan suppers.
Along with colorfully written and gorgeously photographed step-by-step recipes presented in a cheeky cartoon format, Ready or Not features kitchen hacks, Paleo ingredient guides, meal plans, shopping lists and more!

My thoughts-

My family is not 100% Paleo, but we are gluten free and want to have more of a Paleo leaning so I am always looking for all of the recipes I can possibly find. I have the original Nom Nom Paleo cookbook and I will admit that one is not my favorite as far as the appeal of the recipes, but I loved the set up of the book in the comic style and there are enough good recipes in there that it caught my attention when I saw this new Nom Nom book. I am so glad that I did. Ready or Not is full of fantastic recipes. I do not think there are many any here I wouldn't try. I love that there is a recipe for gluten free tortillas, a recipe I know I will utilize time and again. Another thing I really liked was that there are several pressure cooker recipes included and since I recently started using an InstantPot to save on time and cook more at home that is a huge bonus to me. I would actually love to see an entire Nom Nom Pressure Cooker Cookbook in the future! One last thing I thought was really cool was that many of the recipes presented either alternative cooking modes (slow cooker instead of pressure cooker if that's not your thing or you don't have one) or a different option to make the recipe a different flavor making the options pretty endless. I would recommend this book to anyone trying to cook more at home whether you subscribe to the Paleo lifestyle or not. There are tons of great recipes here not to missed.









Sunday, May 7, 2017

100% Real by Sam Talbot (Cookbook Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

Celebrated chef and healthy-living expert Sam Talbot shows us how to make wildly delicious, nourishing food--using healthy, wholesome ingredients.
Bursting with 100 whole-food recipes and down-to-earth advice about clean eating, this cookbook proves that eating 100% real food is an enjoyable choice you can make every day. Chef Sam Talbot's nourishing dishes are overflowing with natural flavor and free of processed ingredients, questionable additives, sweeteners, or preservatives.

Packed with vibrant personality and more than 150 photos, this cookbook is a real-world guide to un-junking what we feed ourselves and our children. Sam explains how to find seasonal ingredients and offers tips on stocking your pantry with game changing ingredients, like coconut oil and chickpea flour.

Forget fat-free, low sodium, zero trans-fat, and the like--the hottest new food claim is not needing a claim at all. Eat. Real. Food.

My thoughts-

Fresh, innovative recipes are something I am always on the hunt to find. Good whole foods recipes with fresh ingredients and no artificial ones that aren't boring or mundane can be difficult to come by. Sam Talbot's book 100% Real contains recipe after recipe of tasty delights! I think that part of the reason I find it appealing is the variety of recipes available with an ethnic flair. I love varied foods so seeing some Asian offerings was exciting. Of particular interest because I have 3 kids and we are on a gluten free diet, is the recipe for gluten free mac n cheese. I absolutely can't wait to try it. It is different than any other gluten free macaroni I have ever made and sounds delicious. I recommend this book to anyone looking to add more variety to their diet or who are looking to make a switch to more whole foods.


Haven of Swans by Colleen Coble (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

A beautiful woman stands by the side of the road, barefoot and bleeding, a child in her arms. Someone just tried to kill her, but she wouldn't recognize him if she saw his face. She doesn't even remember her own name.
A suburban cop surveys a kitchen in disarray—a woman and child missing, a chilling note. This crime scene is unlike any he has ever seen.
The man who calls himself Gideon waits and plans. He sees himself as a destroyer of evil, one who rids the world of abominations. He has already killed five. He will kill again.
And somewhere in the wilderness, in a secret geocache near where the wild swans gather, lies the unspeakable clue that links them all together.
Michigan's rugged and beautiful Upper Peninsula is the setting for this absorbing tale of love and loss, beauty and terror, grievous sins and second chances. A deftly woven thriller from the bestselling author of the Rock Harbor novels.
Previously published as Abomination.

My thoughts-

It's been a while since I got to read a book by Colleen Coble so when I saw this one, I grabbed it! I always enjoy her work. I didn't realize it was several books into a series, but it stood alone on it's own absolutely fine. The book kept my wheels turning trying to figure out what was going on, who might be the bad guy, and wondering if the main character would get her memories back. I was quite interested in these characters and the outcome of their story, so I will probably go back and read the other books in the series as well. I love that the book is edgy but not completely out of whack due to the fact that it is written in the genre of Christian suspense. That doesn't mean it isn't suspenseful or interesting. I think Mrs. Coble does a fantastic job of pushing the envelope without it getting to an uncomfortable level. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys suspense novels.










Saturday, May 6, 2017

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-
\
The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
    Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
    Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
    Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
    Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
    And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

My thoughts-

When I read the premise of One of Us is Lying I thought it sounded like a book I would really enjoy. I like books with an air of mystery. Books that keep me guessing. One of Us is Lying did both. I liked that the characters were well written, no easy feat when you have several main characters. They all had their flaws, but all had redeeming qualities too. I found myself rooting that each of them had nothing to do with what happened and quickly believed that none of them did. I really enjoyed being kept on my toes until the end trying to figure out whodunit. I found the premise of this book refreshingly different and think that anyone who enjoys YA fiction or suspense novels would love this book.

Monday, May 1, 2017

PhilanthroParties! by Lulu Cerone (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

Why just party when you can party with a purpose? Seventeen-year-old Lulu Cerone shows teens how to bring social activism into their daily lives—and have fun while doing it—with this colorful DIY party planning guide perfect for every socially conscious kid!

PhilanthroParties are “parties with a purpose.” In 2010, then ten-year-old Lulu Cerone was deeply affected by the earthquake in Haiti. She set out to raise money for Haitian relief by selling lemonade, but she upped the ante on the classic lemonade stand: she got her entire class to participate, boys against girls. Their lemonade “war” raised $4,000!

Now seventeen, Lulu is bringing her message of social activism to kids and teens around the world, showing them how to have fun while taking action, giving back, and generally having an impact on the world and the communities they live in.

My thoughts-

My daughter is just slightly younger than Lulu was when she did her lemonade stand war. My 9 year old and our 8 year old neighbor just recently finished their second annual lemonade stand to raise money for our local food pantry, so I got this book to help inspire the girls. They are always looking for ways to help their community. Lulu Cerone is a creative and compassionate girl, there are some fantastic party ideas in the book and I know my sweet daughter will definitely want to host some of her own PhilanthroParties!. The coolest thing about this way of raising money is that there is a fun event involved tied into the fundraiser and who doesn't want to have fun with their friends? I think that PhilanthroParties! is a fantastic book for kids and teens a like, but I also think adults could do good taking a page or two from this way of shinning light on a cause of your choice. I recommend this book to absolutely anyone who is looking for ideas on making a difference!