Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Polygamist's Daughter by Anna LeBaron (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from Tyndale Publisher's via their Tyndale Blogging Network 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-

My father had thirteen wives and more than fifty children . . .This is the haunting memoir of Anna LeBaron, daughter of the notorious polygamist and murderer Ervil LeBaron. Ervil’s criminal activity kept Anna and her siblings constantly on the run from the FBI. Often starving, the children lived in a perpetual state of fear—and despite their numbers, Anna always felt alone. Would she ever find a place she truly belonged? Would she ever be anything other than the polygamist’s daughter?

Filled with murder, fear, and betrayal, The Polygamist’s Daughter is the harrowing, heart-wrenching story of a fatherless girl and her unwavering search for love, faith, and a place to call home.

My thoughts-

I am fascinated by what I can't understand, as I think many people are, and something lately has me particularly interested in the fundamentalist Mormon group that Anna LeBaron was once a part of, mainly because she was born into it. The good majority of the memoir is heartbreaking. This kid is dumped on other people in different places, never sees her parents, is forced to work for nothing and never knows what's going on. I could not imagine a childhood like that. She could wake up one day and be living in Texas only to be told that now she is moving to Mexico. Beyond the fact that her childhood without her parents must have been super confusing, her father lead the cult and is known to have committed or ordered many murders on people who he felt had a wavering faith or on rivals who he felt threatened by. Anna had only met this man a handful of times. Who knows how many other kids he had with how many other wives! Luckily, one of her older sisters and her husband who had left the cult adopted a parental role with Anna and took her under their wing. Sadly, there was still more tragedy to come, but I don't want to spoil the book for anyone so you will have to pick it up to see what happened. The Polygamist's Daughter will make you angry, sad, confused, and probably make you feel more empathetic to the people born into this cult. It will open your eyes and give you more of a direct look into what life was like for someone who didn't choose this path and the danger it can create trying to escape it. I recommend this book to people who enjoy memoirs.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse (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-

With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter dares to hope that she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.
But the reality of becoming parents proves much harder than Lucy and Jonah imagined. Jonah’s love and support is unquestioning, but as Lucy struggles with work and her own failing dreams, the strain on their marriage increases. Suddenly it feels like Lucy is close to losing everything…
Heart-wrenching and poignant, this latest work by bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: what does it mean to be a mother in today’s hectic world? And what if it’s asking too much to want it all?

My thoughts-

I would like to start off this review saying that The Idea of You contains very sensitive subject matter of miscarriage that might be difficult for some people to read. If this is you, you probably want to skip this book. For others it might be therapeutic, for me it was eye opening. This book was full of heart wrenching pages, from what I gather from the author's note at the end, Lucy Carpenter is having some of the same struggles she has in reality. The Idea of You was full of sadness and frustration, but poignant and full of hope. It is interlaced with great humor and sweet husband, so that helped break up some of the more dramatic and serious scenes. I read the book in one sitting, I couldn't put it down, but some of it was really hard to get through because of how emotional a toll it can take on you. I recommend The Idea of You to anyone who enjoys drama or women's contemporary fiction.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Dinner by Herman Koch (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-

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve Coogan, Rebecca Hall, and Chloƫ Sevigny

"A European
Gone Girl." —The Wall Street Journal
An internationally bestselling phenomenon, the darkly suspenseful, highly controversial tale of two families struggling to make the hardest decision of their lives—all over the course of one meal.

It's a summer's evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.

Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

Skewering everything from parenting values to pretentious menus to political convictions, this novel reveals the dark side of genteel society and asks what each of us would do in the face of unimaginable tragedy.

My thoughts-

If  I find a book that is soon to be a movie, something about that book compels me to read it. The Dinner is a novel by Dutch author Herman Koch, it has been translated into several languages and it a best seller. I was curious when I read the plot what the two fifteen year old kids did that their parents would be discussing. Sadly you don't get anywhere near that plot line until half way in the book. I thought that the set up of the book into the different parts of a dinner was interesting, but the book kind of went all over the place. For people who don't like narrators who jump from one time period to another the whole novel this might be confusing. I don't mind it usually and still had trouble keeping up. The set up to the story was slow and I felt like the first half of the book was all about what they were eating rather than why they were at dinner, but once we got to the second half things picked up and the plot got juicy. I had no trouble finishing up the book at that point. If you like books like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, where there are pretty much zero likeable characters, but the story telling is suspenseful, you will love The Dinner.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

How to Draw Cool Stuff by Catherine V. Holmes (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received  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-

How to Draw Cool Stuff: Holidays, Seasons and Events is a step-by-step drawing guide that illustrates popular celebrations, holidays and events for your drawing pleasure. From the Chinese New Year to April Fools' Day, Father's Day to Halloween, Christmas and New Year’s Eve - this book covers over 100 fun days, holidays, seasons and events, and offers simple lessons that will teach you how to draw like a pro and get you in the spirit of whichever season it may be! The third book in the How To Draw Cool Stuff series, this exciting new title will teach you how to create simple illustrations using basic shapes and a drawing technique that simplifies the process of drawing, all while helping you construct height, width and depth in your work. It will guide you through the creative thought process and provide plenty of ideas to get you started. The lessons in this book will also teach you how to think like an artist and remind you that you are only limited by your imagination!

My thoughts-

My daughter recently decided to take up painting so I have been painting with her. The problem is I have no artistic talent whatsoever, so I need a picture to look at or mimic or trace and I thought what better way to do that than to practice by sketching. I saw How to Draw Cool Stuff and knew I needed to check it out. I like that there are step by step instructions and it shows you how to start off simple and then has several more steps to get to the finished product. Some of the drawings in the book are away over my head, but there are a couple of simple ones that I plan on giving a try! I think this book is great for beginners like more and even for a more seasoned sketcher who would like some new ideas.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Vibrant India by Chitra Agrawal (Cookbook Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received  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. 

I have long been a fan of Indian food, but I must admit that I typically lean towards the comforting curries, usually meat dishes, although I will typically get my Tikka Masala with paneer instead of chicken. I have always wanted to dive deeper into the world of vegetarian Indian cuisine and Vibrant India has allowed me to do just that. This cookbook has every tidbit of information you need to get started with cooking Indian vegetarian cuisine. Just thumbing through the book makes my mouth water and I have visions of dosas and stews, salads, breads and desserts dancing around in my head. I love that there is information inlcuded for how to make homemade ghee, something that can be utilized in your cooking whether you are making Indian food or not. I know I will be utilizing Vibrant India as a wonderful source for both Indian and vegetarian cooking in my kitchen.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Perfect by Cecilia Ahern (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 are 100% my own.

About the book-

Celestine North lives in a society that demands perfection. After she was branded Flawed by a morality court, Celestine's life has completely fractured--all her freedoms gone.
Since Judge Crevan has declared her the number one threat to the public, she has been a ghost, on the run with Carrick--the only person she can trust.
But Celestine has a secret--one that could bring the entire Flawed system crumbling to the ground. A secret that has already caused countless people to go missing.
Judge Crevan is gaining the upper hand, and time is running out for Celestine. With tensions building, Celestine must make a choice: save just herself or to risk her life to save all Flawed people.
And, most important of all, can she prove that to be human in itself is to be Flawed?

My thoughts-

I have been a long time fan of Cecilia Ahern. In fact, one of her first books, Love, Rosie, is one of my favorite books of all time. YA dystopia is a new genre for her, but Perfect is the second book in the Flawed series. I read Flawed in a day, maybe two, I was so into it. The book was about a society of people who are branded in places on their body depending on the crimes they commit, which is what supposedly keeps their society in line. Celestine bucks the system, and it's up with a special 6th brand that was never given before and given by someone who wasn't supposed to give it. Perfect is the continuation of that story and about Celestine trying to fight for justice for what was done to her and the other "flawed" people in her society. I found this book to be the same as many second books in dystopian series...wordy and descriptive and not as compelling as the first. It was still an intriguing book and had a resolution at the end, which makes me wonder if another book is necessary or on the horizon, but these types of series usually happen in threes and #3 is usually a little more action packed than #2 so we can only hope that we will get a conclusion to this book. I think Ahern's foray into YA has been a successful one thus for and I would love to see more from her in this genre.

Tiny and Full by Jorge Cruise (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-

Eat Off The Pounds!
Imagine letting your body do the work for you. You no longer need to cut down your portions or spend countless hours in the gym to lose weight. Because Tiny and Full is not a diet—it’s a revolutionary lifestyle, where you will discover how to eat MORE and still lose weight.

Scientists and researchers have discovered “tiny calorie foods,” or foods low in calorie but big in size, that can help you stay TINY but FULL. These foods allow you to turn off hunger by filling up and staying satisfied while cutting calories. Paired with more than 80 delicious recipes—everything from pizza to ice cream, a 12-week easy-to-follow meal planner, shopping lists, and at-home workouts too—you have all the tools you need to reach your weight-loss goals.

My thoughts-

Jorge Cruise is one of my favorite wellness authors. I have read many of his previous books, but this is definitely the best one yet! I love that he is not afraid to admit that some of his former thoughts may not have been exactly spot on which shows me that he is continually researching wellness to give us the best information possible. What I absolutely love about Tiny and Full is that is a complete guide to wellness. Cruise shares with us the latest research on how to obtain optimal health, as well as gives us a plan of action including what to eat, recipes and meal plans, and even suggested workouts. Most health and wellness books give you one or another. I like that we are given a whole plan to execute here. The recipes included are simple whole foods recipes but sound fantastic. I started highlighting the recipes that sounded appealing to me until I realized I was pretty much highlighting them all. Tiny and Full gives us all the tools necessary to get on and stay on the right track!