Friday, October 31, 2014

A Lifelong Love by Gary Thomas Book Review + Giveaway

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

About the book-

You believe your marriage has eternal purposes. You long for it to reach beyond your home and encourage others. But what does it look like to have spiritually intentional relationship in the midst of dirty dishes, work deadlines, and car pools.

In Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas showed us that God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy. Now, in A Lifelong Love, Thomas gives us the practical tools to craft our marriaes into inspiring relationships that breathe spiritual life to others.

Whatever season of marriage you are in, A Lifelong Love  gives you the practical help you need to infuse your marriage with a spiritual passion that will not only change you but will change the world around you.

My thoughts-

I try to read books about relationships and marriage whenever I can. I definitely believe that marriage is a learning process through each season of our relationship. A good marriage is a constant work in progress and A Lifelong Love is a great resource. This book can be applied to a newlywed couple or a more seasoned couple, so it is a great one to have in your home library. The pages are full of sage advice and examples of living your life and treating your marriage beyond the bare minimum. It teaches you not to just go through the motions, but really work at making it into something lovely, something sacred, There are even examples of things that are common occurrences in marriages or things that are different between women and men to help us understand why our husbands might act one way or to explain to our husbands why we might react a certain way to a situation. At the end of each chapter there are wonderful questions designed to really get you thinking, as well as prayers for your marriage. A Lifelong Love is the kind of book that you can revisit and get something out of each time. I know I will be reading this again and I am sure that I will gain something new with each time I read it!

A Lifelong Love is available on Amazon.com and other retailers nationwide.
About the author-

Connect with Gary Thomas on Facebook
Connect with Gary Thomas on Twitter
alifelonglove.com/


Enter via the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win a copy of the book!

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Banfi Chianti Wines + Crazy for Chianti Contest

*Disclosure of material connection. I received free products in exchange for my honest thoughts. 

A little over a year ago, I started attending a book club full of people I had never met. I am not exactly a social butterfly (at least not with a bunch of people I don't know) and everyone that attended was drinking red wine. At the time I was a huge white wine fan, but didn't have much experience with reds. Since that is what we had, that is what I drank. The same thing happened at the meetings each month and soon I was preferring reds over whites. I almost can not drink white anymore because they are too sweet! haha. Now I like to try new red wines and tell the ladies in the book club all about them, or better yet, bring a bottle with me on meeting nights.

Anyway, I was very excited to try a trio of Banfi's Chianti wines. I did not previously have a ton of experience with Chianti so I tried it the way I like to try new things, in a recipe. I found this great recipe for zucchini lasagna, using the zucchini as the pasta and it called for red wine. I thought what better way to try the Bolla Chianti. The lasagna was amazing! The combination of the ingredients, especially the zucchini and the wine brought it all together. I also had a glass of the Bolla Chianti with dinner. It was a little bolder then what I would normally have, but I enjoyed it.

Another way you can enjoy your Chianti is to pair it with a gourmet grilled cheese. My favorite way to up my grilled cheese game is to make a tomato basil grilled cheese. It has kind of an Italian flare, perfect for pairing with Banfi Calssico and easy to assemble. I like to use honey wheat bread, provolone cheese, fresh basil and slices of tomato. I like mine dry, but it would also add a new level of flavor if you added some pesto or even some mayo to the bread. What a great pair!

Think you have what it takes to make the perfect grilled cheese and Chianti combo? Try your luck by building a virtual grilled cheese. The winner will win $2500. The contest ends October 31!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (Book 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

The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this compelling, exhilarating, and beautiful story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning!

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might die. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it's unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the "natural wonders" of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It's only with Violet that Finch can be himself--a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who's not such a freak after all. And it's only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet's world grows, Finch's begins to shrink.


My thoughts-

As you see above in the book description, All the Bright Places is being compared to The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park. I haven't read Eleanor and Park (yet. it IS on my Kindle and I plan on it soon) but I found it to be more like another John Green book, Paper Towns. It is a love story, but mostly it is a story about adolescence dealing with depression and thoughts of suicide. There is definitely some tough subject matter, but I think it is good to get this conversation going. There are so many kids out there dealing with these feelings and maybe this book will show them that they are not alone. It breaks my heart to be inside of Finch's head. On the surface, he is such a likable person, but because people think he is weird because of rumors they have heard they don't even take the time to get to know him. His thoughts are often of death, he is definitely preoccupied. When he meets Violet, she brings a little bit of light back into his life and the same could be said of her for him. I enjoyed seeing their relationship unfold, but this was a very heavy book. If your teen wants to read it, I suggest reading it as well and having a discussion about it. Suicide is a difficult subject, but touches so many. This is a tough, but very good read. It has already been optioned as a movie with Elle Fanning signed on to play Violet. I think it will be very interesting to see who ends up playing Finch. He will need to have some fantastic range in his acting skills. I will be looking forward to it. 



About the author-

All the Bright Places is Jennifer Niven’s first book for young adult readers, but she has written four novels for adults—American Blonde, Becoming Clementine, Velva Jean Learns to Fly, and Velva Jean Learns to Drive—as well as three nonfiction books—The Ice Master, Ada Blackjack, and The Aqua-Net Diaries, a memoir about her high school experiences. Although she grew up in Indiana, she now lives with her fiancé and literary cats in Los Angeles, which remains her favorite place to wander. For more information, visit JenniferNiven.com, GermMagazine.com, or find her on Facebook.


All the Bright Places will be available Janaury 6, 2015, You can pre-order it on Amazon.com. ( it is currently on sale for $9.98!)

Monday, October 27, 2014

The French for Christmas by Fiona Valpy (Book 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-
A year to forget. The perfect escape. And a little Christmas magic…
Touching, uplifting, and filled with delicious French cooking, The French for Christmas is the perfect Christmas treat.
Evie used to LOVE Christmas, but this year she can’t wait for the tinsel and presents to be a distant memory.
When her best friends offer the use of their cottage in the beautiful French countryside, Evie jumps at the chance. With her soon-to-be-ex-husband, celebrity chef Will Brooke, plastered over the news with his latest ‘love interest’, leaving the country seems like the perfect plan.
Armed with her French grandmother’s tattered notebook of recipes, Evie is determined to ignore Christmas altogether and bake herself back to happiness.
And when Evie meets her next-door neighbour – the très gorgeous doctor Didier she finds a very willing taste-tester. But is it possible that he could be interested in more than just her Tarte Tatin?
With snow falling, a special Réveillon dinner and a little Christmas magic in the air, could Didier even be the one to thaw Evie’s heart? Or will a visit from the ghost of Christmas past change everything?
My thoughts-
I have not been in the same situation as Evie and I can't even imagine the pain she feels, especially such a loss during the holidays, so I absolutely understand her wanting to avoid Christmas and just be on her own in a different place. This book was so sad to me the more I learned about Evie and her life, how things ended with her husband and what led to that happening, his success in the wake of all of her sadness, so I enjoyed reading about her finding herself and a new beginning in Paris. I didn't feel completely connected to this book for some reason. I thought it had a great message and I liked the overall story, but found myself bored and skimming in several places. I still think it is was worth a read. 
About the author-
Fiano Valpy is the author of The French for Love, The French for Always and The French for Christmas. She also teaches yoga at her home in the Bordeaux winelands. Learn more about her at fionavalpy.com/
Connect with Fiona Valpy on Twitter

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka (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-

Gina Homolka is America’s most trusted home cook when it comes to easy, flavorful recipes that are miraculously low-calorie and made from all-natural, easy-to-find ingredients. Her blog, Skinnytaste is the number one go-to site for slimmed down recipes that you’d swear are anything but. It only takes one look to see why people go crazy for Gina’s food: cheesy, creamy Fettuccini Alfredo with Chicken and Broccoli with only 420 calories per serving, breakfast dishes like Make-Ahead Western Omelet "Muffins" that truly fill you up until lunchtime, and sweets such as Double Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies that are low in sugar and butter-free but still totally indulgent.
 
The Skinnytaste Cookbook features 150 amazing recipes: 125 all-new dishes and 25 must-have favorites. As a busy mother of two, Gina started Skinnytaste when she wanted to lose a few pounds herself. She turned to Weight Watchers for help and liked the program but struggled to find enough tempting recipes to help her stay on track. Instead, she started “skinny-fying” her favorite meals so that she could eat happily while losing weight.
 
With 100 stunning photographs and detailed nutritional information for every recipe, The Skinnytaste Cookbook is an incredible resource of fulfilling, joy-inducing meals that every home cook will love.


My thoughts-

There is so much this cookbook has going for it, I truly don't know where to begin! I think by now most people that use the internet to search for recipes have probably come across Skinnytaste at some point or another either via the blog or Facebook page. I love that this book is written by a home cook (with the help of registered dietitian Heather K. Jones), but is full of fantastic recipes. The goal was to make food we all love into food we don't have to feel guilty about eating, but that still tastes amazing and I think that goal was met. This is the most organized cookbook I have ever seen. There are several categories the foods are divided into, there are symbols for special diets and as reference points for certain types of food (vegetarian, gluten free, freezer friendly, slow cooking, ect.) and there is a nutritional break down on every page of every recipe. To me, the nutritional break down is key and I wish that every single cookbook that is out there would do the same. It is nice to see the calories, protein, fiber, sugar (ect.) content right there without having to figure it out on your own. For me that alone will make this a go to cookbook, but beyond that I love that all of the recipes sound and look delicious, that there is a vast array of different types of food (I love international cuisine and there is plenty of that here as well as more traditional foods for the finicky eater). Just typing this review is making me hungry! I like to plan my meals a week at a time and I normally take out several different cookbooks to compose my meal plan, but I could use Skinnytaste all on it's own for the whole week and have a great variety of tasty and healthy meals to make for my family. I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who likes to eat good tasting food, but wants to maintain a healthy diet as well. This is a fantastic addition to any home cook's cookbook collection!

About the author-


Gina Homolka is the founder of Skinnytaste, the award-winning blog that's been featured in Fitness and Better Homes and Gardens and on Glamour.com and Finecooking.com, among other media outlets. She lives on Long Island with her husband and their two children.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Becoming Myself Journal Review + Giveaway

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

I am so excited to be writing my first review and holding my first giveaway as a Family Christian blogger! I hope this will be the first of many. 

I love to write, I love to plan and I love encouragement (and let's face it, I can use it just as much as the next person!). The becoming myself journal is a great opportunity to intertwine all three of these in one. The journal can be used as a supplement to becoming myself: embracing God's dream for you by Stasi Eldredge, an encouraging book meant to help women let go of past and current critical thoughts of themselves and become the woman God intends for them to be. It is a positive book with a positive message. The journal can also be used on it's own to take notes during Bible studies or personal quiet times or to journal thoughts in. What I love most about the journal are the quotes from the book spread through out. Each quote that I read was incredibly encouraging and all were about things that most women can relate to and might need to hear. becoming myself is a beautiful book that will scream out to be picked up and written in and would also make a great gift. 

Enter below via the Rafflecopter for your chance to win a copy of the becoming myself journal for yourself!


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Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Tucci Table (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-

Featuring family-friendly recipes and stunning photography, an all-new cookbook from New York Times bestselling author, beloved actor, and respected foodie Stanley Tucci.

Stanley Tucci’s association with wonderful foods began for fans with the movie Big Night and resonated in his role as Julia Child’s husband in Julie & Julia. But well before these films, he was enjoying innovative homemade Italian meals throughout his childhood, when family and food were nearly inseparable and cooking was always a familial venture.

Now, in a completely new, family-focused cookbook, Tucci captivates food lovers’ imaginations with recipes from his traditional Italian roots as well as those of his British wife, Felicity Blunt, tied together with a modern American ribbon. The time-tested recipes include pasta alla bottarga, mushroom-stuffed trout, pork chops with onions and mustard sauce, barbeque chicken wings, and much, much more! Nothing will make you happier to spend time with family than the aroma of a hearty Italian dish sizzling on the stovetop.

Featuring 100 luscious new full-color photographs, The Tucci Table captures the true joys of family cooking. Buon apetito!


My thoughts-

When I saw that Stanley Tucci had a cookbook coming out, I had to read it. Immediately .I am always compelled to watch everything he is in and apparently, I am also compelled to know what goes on in his kitchen. I learned a couple of new things that I probably should already know. A. He has released previous cookbooks (that I can not wait to check out!) and b. he is married to Felicity Blunt. If that name doesn't sound familiar to you, perhaps you have heard of her sister Emily? You know, Emily Blunt, who was in The Devil Wears Prada with Stanley Tucci! I think it is adorable that Tucci met his wife through his former co-star. I also think Felcity's background also lends a hand at making this an all around great cookbook. Tucci's Italian roots are the main focus of the recipes, but there are some great British recipe in the book to celebrate his wife as well. I was salivating as I read each recipe. I loved that these are all wholesome, whole foods, from scratch recipes. I would pretty much try anything in this book. The thing that really ties the recipes together are the personal stories from Tucci throughout the pages. There is something about memories evoked by the recipes that make the even more special. If you are a fan of Stanley Tucci or are a foodie, you will enjoy The Tucci Table.

The Tucci Table will be available October 28. You can pre-order it on Amazon.com.