Sunday, October 13, 2019

Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren Layne

*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-

Can guys and girls ever be just friends? According to Audrey Tate and Clarke West, absolutely. After all, they’ve been best friends since childhood without a single romantic entanglement. Clarke is the charming playboy Audrey can always count on, and he knows that the ever-loyal Audrey will never not play along with his strategy for dodging his matchmaking mother—announcing he’s already engaged…to Audrey.

But what starts out as a playful game between two best friends turns into something infinitely more complicated, as just-for-show kisses begin to stir up forbidden feelings. As the faux wedding date looms closer, Audrey and Clarke realize that they can never go back to the way things were, but deep down, do they really want to?


My thoughts-

I have to admit, I had never heard of Lauren Layne prior to coming across this book on Netgalley let alone read the other books in this series, but the cover was adorable- maybe the cutest cover I have ever seen- and I was going through NYC withdrawals (which normally starts around October) so I knew I had to read it. I absolutely loved the cute best friends story going on here although it was a little crazy how they just didn't talk to each other about how they feel but it did make for some great tension in the story and I loved watching it unfold. I enjoyed the dynamic between Audrey and Clarke (and love is sweet nickname for her- Dree) and it aboslutely makes me want to go back and read the other books in the series not only to see their relationship even more but to learn about her friends' relationships as well! I recommend this book to anyone wo loves a good romance!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz

*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-

Seven months.
That’s how long I was kept captive.
Locked in a room with a bed, refrigerator, and adjoining bathroom, I was instructed to eat, bathe, and behave. I received meals, laundered clothes, and toiletries through a cat door, never knowing if it was day or night. The last time I saw the face of my abductor was when he dragged me fighting from the trunk of his car. And when I finally escaped, I prayed I’d never see him again.
Now that I’m home, my parents and friends want everything to be like it was before I left. But they don’t understand that dining out and shopping trips can’t heal what’s broken inside me. I barely leave my bedroom. Therapists are clueless and condescending. So I start my own form of therapy—but writing about my experience awakens uncomfortable memories, ones that should’ve stayed buried. How far will I have to go to uncover the truth of what happened—and will it break me forever?

My thoughts-

Jane Anonymous was a difficult read. Don't get me wrong, it was an excellent book, well written and executed, but the subject matter was intense. We meet Jane "after" her captivity and learn about what she went through in flashbacks. It was a page turner I couldn't put down and the back and forth of "then" and "now" entries added some wonderful elements of suspense. This is the kind of book I would recommend to my book club because it is the type of story that demands discussion. I absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys suspense or young adult books, and to book club groups. 

The Dirty, Lazy, Keto by Stephanie Laska; William Laska

*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-

You don’t have to be perfect to be successful at weight loss—now you can bend the rules and still lose the weight. If your version of the keto diet includes a Diet Coke, low-carb beer, or the occasional chocolate-covered protein bar, The DIRTY, LAZY, KETO Cookbook is your roadmap for results. Bestselling author Stephanie Laska explains her flexible, honest, and real-world approach to losing weight with the keto diet and inspires you to cook your way to weight loss, maintenance, and beyond whether you’re a beginner or experienced keto veteran.

Including 100 recipes that are under 10 net carbs per serving, The DIRTY, LAZY, KETO Cookbook presents affordable, traditional, and most importantly recognizable recipes to guide you on your weight loss journey. All of the ingredients can be found at discount grocery stores—nothing fancy here! Within these relatable and unique recipes there are meals for picky eaters, fancier meals for guests, and some that are vegetarian “ish” (don’t contain meat, but may contain dairy or eggs). And with simple, stress-free instructions that require no cooking experience, there’s no excuse not to cook.

The DIRTY, LAZY, KETO Cookbook empowers you to keto your own way. The recipes in this judgement-free cookbook support you on your unique path to realistic and sustainable weight loss, not perfection. 


My thoughts-

I am all for cookbooks like these! A strict ketogenic definitely the way to go if you have a health issue you are trying to tackle, but if you are looking to lose weight like so many other people, and such restriction causes you to fail or not ever start the low carb way of eating then Dirty, Lazy, Keto might be for you. I love that the author has personal experience to share with us and so many tasty recipes to include. The only thing that rocked my boat (and she mentioned before speaking of it that it would be controversial) is her nonchalant attitude about chemical sweeteners. Is she trading one bad thing for another? I say yes. Those fake sugars mess with your brain chemistry and I feel like there is no reason to use them when we have access to plant based sweeteners like stevia. To each their own, I suppose, but PLEASE  do your research on chemical sweeteners before putting that garbage into your body. I digress, the rest of the book was phenomenal and I think that taking the pressure off of being perfect can really go a long way in helping someone get into the groove of things as they try to get healthier. I recommend this book to anyone trying to lose weight or who just likes the low carb lifestyle. 

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Christmas in Winter Hill by Melody Carlson

*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-

Krista Galloway is not a fan of Christmas. After her rough childhood in multiple foster homes, the holiday season just brings too many bad memories to the surface. But when she accepts a job as a city manager in the mountain town of Winter Hill, Washington, Christmas is part of the deal. The small town is famous for its Christmasville celebration, something that the city manager . . . well, manages.

As she tries to make her tiny new apartment feel like home for her and her eight-year-old daughter, Emily, Krista begins to wonder if this move was a mistake. She doesn't always feel welcomed in the close-knit town, and Emily continually wonders, "Where's the snow?" Can a friendly stranger and his family help restore Krista's Christmas spirit before the big day?


My thoughts- 

If I were ever to write a book (hopefully someday I will work up the courage to get my ideas from brain to paper!), it would be something very similar to this. I love books set in small, close knit towns that feel magical and story book like. Bonus points if it reminds me of my favorite story book like tv shows Gilmore Girls and Hart of Dixie. There is just something I love about these small town stories. I also am a total sucker for a great Christmas time romance so Christmas in Winter Hill hit me in the feels. I loved the writing style of Melody Carslon and that I was invested in the story and Krista's life from the beginning. I would have loved more time during the Christmasville festivities, but I absolutely loved hearing about the Christmas House and the contest to win it. It was an interesting take on a holiday book and I really enjoyed it. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a sweet (and very innocent) romance or loves books set during Christmas. 

Sunday, September 29, 2019

I've Seen the End of You by W. Lee Warren, M.D.

*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-

Dr. W. Lee Warren, a practicing brain surgeon, assumed he knew most outcomes for people with glioblastoma, head injuries, and other health-care problems. Yet even as he tried to give patients hope, his own heart would sink as he realized, I've seen the end of you.

But it became far more personal when the acclaimed doctor experienced an unimaginable family tragedy. That's when he reached the end of himself.

Page-turning medical stories serve as the backdrop for a raw, honest look at how we can remain on solid ground when everything goes wrong and how we can find light in the darkest hours of life.

I've Seen the End of You is the rare book that offers tender empathy and tangible hope for those who are suffering. No matter what you're facing, this doesn't have to be the end. Even when nothing seems to 
makes sense, God can transform your circumstances and your life. And he can offer a new beginning.

My thoughts-

I read through this book in just a couple of days. I have kind of been on a non-fiction kick and I have been flying through them all, but none like this one. It really resonated with me. It was refreshing to read a book both about someone who can believe in both science AND God and who admits that sometimes his faith waivers. Sometimes it is difficult when we go through hard times and feel like we have to still be this pillar of faith and it is refreshing to see someone say not only is it okay to waiver in those moments, but that it happens throughout the Bible too. It doesn't mean that we give up hope or our faith, it just means it is okay to not understand why something happens or even to not be happy about it, and I think in the end most times that I go through periods like this, in the end my faith in God ends up renewed and even stronger than before. I am thankful to Dr. Warren for such a vunerable look inside of his very difficult profession and personal life. I thought this was an excellent book. I recommend this book to anyone really.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Experiement with Kitchen Science

*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-

Science isn’t limited to the classroom—it can be cooked up in the kitchen! This photographic book of experiments and projects covers covers chemical reactions, states of matter, microbiology, and much more– all with ingredients and equipment that can be found in the kitchen.

The STEAM Ahead series shows readers that science isn’t limited to the classroom—it can be found out in the garden, cooked up in the kitchen, and brought to life with paper and paints! Each book features clear, step-by-step instructions and has a fresh, contemporary design, with an emphasis on fun, achievable experiments to give kids hands-on experiences. The science behind each experiment is explained, giving readers the theory behind the practical activities. 

My thoughts-

I am always looking for ways to bring more education into our home. It is great when kids learn when they are having hands on fun because that will stay with them longer than sitting in a classroom and just hearing or writing something. My kids are getting a little older now, but I think even at 10 my boys would enjoy these kitchen experients. I like that most of the experiments use stuff you would already find in your kitchen so you don't have to go out and buy anything special or spend a lot of money. I also like the set up of the pages of the book with the pictures and explinations making it easy for older kids to conduct these expirements independently. They are also not so complicated that younger kids couldn't do them with a little help from an adult. I recommend this book to anyone who has kids 10 and under who enjoy science or other hands on activities. 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Snowfall on Cedar Trail by Annie Rains

*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-

Christmas is always bustling for Halona Locklear's flower shop, but this year, she's determined to take some time out to give her young son an extra special holiday. So she should be thrilled when hunky police chief Alex Baker wants to be their not-so-secret Santa. But Halona can't get too close to Alex. He knows a truth she needs to keep hidden...for her boy's sake.
Though Alex always had a thing for Halona, he never dared to pursue his best friend's little sister. But he can't shake the feeling that the gorgeous single mom and her little boy could use some holiday cheer, even if Halona refuses to let down her guard. But when ghosts of Christmas past threaten, Alex and Halona must decide what matters more: protecting their secrets or opening their wary hearts to new possibilities.

My thoughts-

Last year I was introduced to the world of Sweetwater Springs and it's inhabitants when I read Christmas on Mistletoe Lane and I have been loving them ever since. In the spring I devoured Springtime at Hope Cottage and soon as it was available and I couldn't wait to read Snowfall on Cedar Trail the second I was able to. I have been waiting on Alex and Halona's story since the first book I read last Christmas! There is just something that pulls on my heartstrings with romantic stories set during the holiday season, especially with familiar characters in a small town setting. It feels like you are there with them. I love the feeling that I could be friends with the charactrs. There was an added special touch with the addition of the storyline of Halona's son Theo and a cute little puppy. This is the perfect story to get you in the holiday spirit. It can stand alone but I highly recommend reading the others in the series and get to know all of the people in Sweetwater Springs!