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!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Road Food by Jane & Michael Stern (Cookbook 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-

First published in 1977, the original Roadfood became an instant classic. James Beard said, "This is a book that you should carry with you, no matter where you are going in these United States. It's a treasure house of information."

The 40th anniversary edition of Roadfood includes 1,000 of America's best local eateries along highways and back roads, with nearly 200 new listings, as well as a brand new design.

Filled with enticing alternatives for chain-weary-travelers, Roadfood provides descriptions of and directions to (complete with regional maps) the best lobster shacks on the East Coast; the ultimate barbecue joints down South; the most indulgent steak houses in the Midwest; and dozens of top-notch diners, hotdog stands, ice-cream parlors, and uniquely regional finds in between. Each entry delves into the folkways of a restaurant's locale as well as the dining experience itself, and each is written in the Sterns' entertaining and colorful style. A cornucopia for road warriors and armchair epicures alike, Roadfood is a road map to some of the tastiest treasures in the United States.

My thoughts-

My family and I love to travel so I was excited to have this book, especially since we have a trip coming up where we plan to drive a little bit from city to city. Sadly, not one food establishment is mentioned in either of the two areas we will be in. Even in my hometown area of Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX some of the most amazing restaurants are not mentioned and there are only a few spotlighted. And one of my favorite vacation spots, Cape Cod, only has one mention, even though there are dozens of towns and many great hole in the wall restaurants to business in that area. I also don't like that there are zero pictures. It is a travel guide and a food guide and yet there are zero pictures of anything. I would have loved to see pictures of off the beaten path things to do or even off the beaten path restaurants since that is what this book is essentially about. I realize that 1,000 restaurants is a tall order but I feel like they could have spread the love over more places to be included in the book. This may be a great guide for a new traveler or someone who would like to try new things to eat but isn't quite to foodie level status yet. It is a good starting point, but I think most people would do better to strike up a conversation with a local or two and ask them where they like to eat. My husband and I have found plenty of great restaurants in our travels that way.  However, for states I am unfamiliar with, this book would be a good guide of where to stop in those places.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Road to Jonestown by Jeff Guinn (Book Review)

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

My thoughts-

The Jonestown Massacre happened several years before I was born, but there is something about this case that has always had me trying to figure out, why? What would lead any one person to a power trip such as the one that occurred where they not only end their own life but the lives of defenseless children? How could adults fall for even following this guy? These are questions I have asked myself when I catch a tv special here or there about the Jonestown Massacre. Jeff Guinn's new book finally gives me the insight I was searching for. To gain a better perspective I think we have to earn about Jones as a baby, a child, a young adult, his early days as a preacher, his parents, his love life, his children..everything about him all the way until that last day in the jungle. It also allows you to see the way that people ended up in the cult to begin with. It is not as simple as people blindly following a crazed man. I recommend The Road to Jonestown to anyone interested in true crime, cults, or history. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Broken Glass by V.C. Andrews (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-

Under their mother’s watchful eye, identical twins Haylee and Kaylee Fitzgerald have lived their entire lives in sync. Never alone, never apart, everything about them must be exactly the same: clothes, friends, punishments. One night, in the darkness of a movie theater, Haylee reveals that she’s leaving to meet up with someone she knows from online. But suddenly feeling ill, and not wanting to disappoint this older man, she convinces Kaylee to go as her instead.
He’ll never know, and this way he won’t think she stood him up. Kaylee reluctantly agrees to go, but when the credits roll and she’s nowhere to be found, Haylee confesses everything to her mom. With the manhunt on, Haylee knows everything must be done to find her sister. Still, for the first time in her life, she’s free from her twin, which, really, isn’t so bad . . . is it?

My thoughts-

Broken Glass is the second book in the newest series from V.C. Andrews. I hadn't read anything by her previous to the first book in the Mirror Sisters series, and to be honest I didn't love that book. I thought it had the potential to be really good, but found that the story didn't really get going until the end. By the end of that book, I was super excited for the second book to come out because things had just started to get interesting. I did like Broken Glass. There was a lot of action and a ton of drama. I like that it switches back and forth between the sisters for their point of view and that there are two entirely different things going on since they are in different places. I felt really bad for Kaylee, stuck in such a terrible situation and I couldn't wait to see what would happen with Haylee once she got herself out of the mess she was in. I am not sure if I will read the third book that comes out next year or not, but it is likely I will feel the need to find out what happens with these girls, especially after how Broken Glass ended. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys suspense or drama.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

When We Last Spoke by Marci Henna (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection-I received a copy of the book from the publisher 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-

With the heart and humor of Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes and Rebecca Wells’s Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, author Marci Henna introduces you to the Cranbournes—a mostly lovable and undoubtedly nutty family who’ve had more than their fair share of hard times.

A beautiful blend of tears and laughter, When We Last Spoke tells the tale of sisters Juliet and Evangeline, who are dropped off by their Broadway-bound mother at their paternal grandparents’ Texas ranch in 1967. After their cherished father is killed in Vietnam, the girls are orphaned. Still mourning their son’s death, grandparents Walt and Ruby accept their role as guardians, only to be surprised soon after by another permanent houseguest’s arrival—Walt’s kooky mother, Itasca.

Fast-forward to the present, where the warmhearted home in which the girls grew up is now just a faint memory. The estranged sisters are in need of a good dose of Walt’s famous stargazing wisdom: “You’ve got to look real close. Pay attention to what’s around you in this life. You’re liable to miss something important if you don’t.”

Packed with plenty of quirky characters and hilarious escapades, this must-read novel also digs in deep to the things that matter most—family, friends, love, and forgiveness.

My thoughts-

I felt like the book got off to a slow start but picked up the pace towards the middle. In the present day there is a rift between the sisters and the reason for that comes to light through the novel. A lot of the book is set in the past, but I don't mind that because I love historical fiction. The girls' as children are sent to live with their grandparents, who love them unconditionally, but then their great grandmother also moves in and she is a little more harsh on them. I enjoy books like these where there are two time periods and I especially like that this one was set in small town Texas, which is super relatable to me because that is how I grew up too. Not within my grandmother's home but she lived in town too and I loved growing up in the same town as her and this book brought back some of those wonderful childhood memories. When We Last Spoke is the kind of novel that is easily turned into a movie and I am excited that is just what is happening with this novel. I can't wait to see it come to life on my screen. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or who (like me) have to read the book before watching a show or movie adaptation.