Saturday, June 24, 2017

Anything but Simple by Lucinda J. Miller (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-

Like her grandmother, Lucinda J. Miller wears long dresses and a prayer covering. But she uses a cellphone and posts status updates on Facebook, too. Anything but Simple is the riveting memoir of a young woman’s rich church tradition, lively family life, and longings for a meaningful future within her Mennonite faith. With a roving curiosity and a sometimes saucy tongue, Miller ushers us into her busy life as a young schoolteacher.

My thoughts-

This is the second book I have read from the Plainspoken series. The other book was about an Amish woman's life, which I am more familiar with than the Mennonite faith, so I was excited to read this book. I do know that Mennonites are also Plain people like the Amish, but that they have a more relaxed approach as far as modern day conveniences. Beyond that I do not know a lot about the Mennonites, so I was excited to read this book. There is something really cool and also quite educational about reading someone's memoir about their day to day life. It's just a book about Lucinda Miller's life, but to me it's a peek into another world. I appreciated Ms. Miller's candor about her faith and her honesty in her struggles. I enjoyed reading about her relationship with a feisty elderly lady and then with another spitfire atheist. Most enjoyable for me, a ferocious reader and wanna be author of a *someday I will write it* novel, I loved reading about Lucinda's adventures in writing. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in stories of every day people or who would like to learn more about the Mennonite faith.

To The New Owners by Madeleine Blais (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 the 1970s, Madeleine Blais’ in-laws purchased a vacation house on Martha’s Vineyard for the exorbitant sum of $80,000. 2.2 miles down a poorly marked, one lane dirt road, the house was better termed a shack—it had no electricity, no modern plumbing, the roof leaked, and mice had invaded the walls. It was perfect.

Sitting on Tisbury Great Pond—well-stocked with oysters and crab for foraged dinners—the house faced the ocean and the sky, and though it was eventually replaced by a sturdier structure, the ethos remained the same: no heat, no TV, and no telephone. Instead, there were countless hours at the beach, meals cooked and savored with friends, nights talking under the stars, until at last, the house was sold in 2014.

To the New Owners is Madeleine Blais’ charming, evocative memoir of this house, and of the Vineyard itself—from the history of the island and its famous visitors to the ferry, the pie shops, the quirky charms and customs, and the abundant natural beauty. But more than that, this is an elegy for a special place. Many of us have one place that anchors our most powerful memories. For Blais, it was the Vineyard house—a retreat and a dependable pleasure that also measured changes in her family. As children were born and grew up, as loved ones aged and passed away, the house was a constant. And now, the house lives on in the hearts of those who cherished it.

My thoughts-

My family and I were lucky enough to get to vacation on Cape Cod a few summers ago. We immediately fell in love and are all itching to go back as soon as humanly possible! We took the ferry over to Martha's Vineyard while we were there. We only had a small span of time on the island and only spent half a day there and only walked around the part of Oak Bluffs nearest to the ferry stop, but within those few hours we knew that the island was a special place. When we think of going back to Massachusetts Martha's Vineyard is always at the top of all 5 of our lists. It's such a peaceful place. I really enjoyed reading Madeleine Blais's book about her family's little cottage there. My favorite part of the book are the logs that they kept and she shared throughout this beautiful written book. I also learned a lot more about the MV (such as people abbreviating it MV) that make me want to go back even more than I did before. I know the author's family will continue to go back to the island whether they have a house or not and that makes my heart happy. Martha's Vineyard is a place for the soul to rest and reset and I will make it a goal to spend more time there some day, hopefully soon.


Friday, June 9, 2017

Eat Fat Get Fit by Kusha Karvandi (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-

The health and fitness industry makes people think they are weak and that the best way to achieve the body they want is to suck it up and push harder.
 But if more is better, why do the majority of us rebound and gain all of the weight back after dieting?
The truth is you’re stronger than you think. It isn’t that you somehow lack willpower or discipline; it’s that you just don’t have the right decision-making system to optimize your diet for your body.
If you’ve tried diets before that didn’t work, don’t worry because Eat Fat Get Fit isn’t about a diet—it’s a way of thinking. With the right perspective, you’ll be able to look at nutrition and fat loss differently, so you can get great results for life.
While your naysayers are counting calories, feeling deprived, and still struggling to lose weight, you’ll be vibrant, full of energy and supercharging your metabolism for sustained fat loss.

My thoughts-

This book is short and sweet and to the point. You could easily read it in one sitting. It gives info on several different types of dieting and why those methods don't work. It then goes into the philosophy that has recently surfaced- eating good fats like avocado, nuts, and olive oil is actually a fantastic way to lose fat. I found most of the recipes at the end of the book to sound absolutely delicious, which doesn't always happen in these health books. I would eat any of the recipes and plan on adding several into my rotation on my weight loss journey. I recommend this book to anyone looking to eat better for their health and who may want to shed some unwanted weight.

ADHD and Me by Chelsea Radojcic (Children's 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-

Meet eight-year-old Malory. Malory has a learning disability, but she doesn't let that stop her from enjoying her life. Whenever she is feeling blue, her mother and father remind her of the list of those who love her. Ms. Julie, her art teacher, understands what it is like to be different. She was born Autistic. Ms.Julie encourages Malory to express herself through art.

My thoughts-

This was such a beautiful book. The illustrations are gorgeous, but the truly beautiful thing was the simple explanation of ADHD. I teared up reading this book because it 100% described what my daughter goes through at school. She is at an age now where the other kids are starting to alienate her because they do find her weird or different or whatever word they use for "not the same as us". Having a book like this in classrooms would help other kids to understand children who have differences from them and maybe encourage a little more understanding and harmony. I think this is a must have for every young elementary classroom!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand (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-

Nantucket is only two and a half hours away from Martha's Vineyard by ferry. But the two islands might as well be worlds apart for a set of identical twin sisters who have been at odds for years. Just because twins look exactly the same doesn't mean they're anything alike--and Tabitha and Harper Frost have spent their whole lives trying to prove this point. When a family crisis forces them to band together--or at least appear to--the twins come to realize that the special bond that they share is more important than the resentments that have driven them apart. A story of new loves, old battles, and a threat that gives a whole new meaning to the term sibling rivalry, THE IDENTICALS is Elin Hilderbrand at her page-turning best.

My thoughts-

I have read a couple of Elin Hilderbrand's other novels and this one is by far the best. I loved the whole concept of this one! I don't know if it is because I have identical twins myself or because I love Martha's Vineyard so much, or a little bit of both. but I couldn't put this one down. Both women have major flaws so at first it was difficult to feel empathy for either, but as their story unravels, both the one of them as a twin set and of them each individually, it all began to make more sense and I could see why they each were the way they were. As I was reading I couldn't help but think that they each belonged on the island they had switched to live on with their sister, but maybe they just both needed to get out of their current situation to really get to a place of understanding of each other and of growing as individual women. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys contemporary women's fiction.











Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The China Study Family Cookbook

*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-

Bring the Whole Family to the Plant-Based Table with Fun and Delicious Recipes

You know the benefits of a plant-based diet—it’s the best choice for your own health and well-being, not to mention the planet’s. But now you need to successfully navigate the transition and convince your family to do the same . . . or at least eat a few more veggies.
The China Study Family Cookbook is the family-friendly cookbook and guide you’ve been waiting for. It’s time to make plant-based eating easier and even more rewarding for your family—no matter your lifestyle. 
The China Study Quick & Easy Cookbook and Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook author Chef Del Sroufe’s 100 easy, flavorful recipes—with family classics reinvented for today’s health-conscious cooks—include:
Sloppy Joes White Bean and Squash Chili Tater Tots Sausage Gravy and Biscuit Casserole Mac and Cheese Breakfast Tacos Apple Butter Pizza, Whoopie Pies, and more


My thoughts-

My family does not follow a plant based diet, but I do think it is important to eat a predominately plant based diet. Finding recipes my whole family will like without meat is always a struggle so I wa excited to see this book specifically for families. I found a lot of recipes in the book that I know my family would love, particularly in the soup section. The only complaint I have is that there is a heavy reliance on whole grains which we do not eat in our house since we are gluten free. I can come up with gluten free versions of the recipes but I would have love to have had a gluten free suggestion along with the original recipe for families like mine. I recommend this book to anyone looking to eat more plant based foods.










Amish Guys Don't Call by Debby Dodds (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-

Samantha is already facing scrutiny and anxiety at the start of her junior year, as she's finally been accepted into the popular girls' clique called "The Sherpas." But when she realizes that her new boyfriend Zach was raised Amish, Sam must tackle a whole new set of challenges! Zach has chosen not to end his Rumspringa, instigating a potential shunning from his family. Not only that, but Sam's new friends can't miss this opportunity to tease and torment her.
Sam has never really come to terms with her parents' divorce, so when her world crashes down on her in the form of cyberbullying and Zach's apparent return to the Amish community, she reverts to old, illegal habits. Does Sam even want friends like these? And, will her culture-crossed love with Zach find a way?

My thoughts-

I thought the plot of this novel sounded like a refreshing mash up of YA with a twist of Amish fiction. It's been a while since I have read any Amish fiction because at this point I feel like I have read every possible storyline, but this was different. I have never thought of the possibility of an Amish teenager dating someone outside of their faith while on their Rumspringa, but it did make for an interesting story! I found the majority of Samanatha's relationships with the girls she is trying to be "in" with annoying though. Maybe because even at that age that wasn't my main goal and she seems smarter than that. Also, it took her an extremely long time to figure out Zach is Amish which bothered me throughout the book. Still, I enjoyed this refreshing love story and really liked the personalities of both Sam and Zach and how well they meshed together. It was a good first novel and I look forward to seeing what Ms. Dodds comes up with next.