Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Monster at Recess by Shira C. Potter

*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 misfit Sophie, too used to being bullied at Grey Stone Day School. Her classmates Julia and Molly tease her to no end and her teacher, Mrs. Cook ignores the bullying.
The playground at Grey Stone has a special secret though: it's shared with the students of a monster school! Craving acceptance and diversity, and trying to defeat her feelings of fear towards these strange and colorful monsters, Sophie bravely steps into the unknown and meets a little monster at recess--and makes her first friend. Through her friendship with the monster, she develops stronger feelings of self-confidence and self-esteem.

My thoughts-

I remember growing up in the late 80's and early 90's that there was always a group of kids no matter what school I went to who would ostracize the other kids from their world. 
Maybe it was because the other kids weren't playing sports like them, or maybe it was because they looked different, or maybe even because they didn't grow up in that place their whole lives that these kids wouldn't be friends with you. I never understood this as a kid. I always tried to interact with all of the other kids, but I found myself on the rejected end of things every now and then and that is so difficult for a kid. Fast forward to current day and I have seen with my own eyes my own kid get bullied by other kids. Yes, you read that right, I have seen a kid say mean things to her with me standing there right next to her. It is one thing to not include a kid in your group, I totally get not everyone can be friends with everyone), but I do not understand why the bullying epidemic has become as bad as it has. The Monster At Recess is a children's book that I think should be in the hands of every kid. This book should be in every young elementary classroom from Kindergarten to Second Grade. It is a short book, but makes a great point about how it doesn't matter how someone else looks or how different we are from each other, that we can still get along, and even be friends. I don't  know what the answer to the bullying epidemic is, but I think books like this one are a great start.





Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Keto Slow Cooker & One-Pot Meals (Bookbook Reviews)

*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-

Slow cooker and one pot meals are the ultimate convenience food. Just fix and forget, then enjoy a nourishing meal when everyone gets home.

Unfortunately, most slow cooker and one-pot recipes depend on processed, high-carbohydrate ingredients like noodles, potatoes, and other high-glycemic ingredients which aren’t allowed on the ketogenic diet.
Keto Slow Cooker & One-Pot Meals lets you enjoy your slow cooker while maintaining your ketogenic diet, too!
Filled with 100 keto recipes for everything from satisfying soups, to quick skillet meals, and savory stews, you'll always be able to get a healthy ketogenic meal on the table with no fuss!

My thoughts-

I am always looking for ways to diversify the ketogenic diet that I follow. This, for me, has been the absolute best way to not only lose weight, but feel and look healthier. Keto Slow Cooker & One-Pot Meals is a great addition to my cookbook collection. I like that there is a healthy mixture of foods from all kinds of different regions. I love a variety of foods, and like recipes like chicken tikka masala, and moussaka. It is easier to eat well when you have a variety of delicious options! I also like that the nutrition facts are listed, particularly the fat and fiber which are both extremely important to track or at least have an idea of when eating this way. Particularly of note is the dessert section, which is full of delicious ways to conquer my sweet tooth without compromising the Keto way of life. I highly recommend this cookbook to anyone following any kind of low carbohydrate diet. 








Picturing Heaven: 40 Hope-filled Devotions with Coloring Pages

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from Tyndale House Publishers 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-

Foster a deeper connection with God through coloring! Picturing Heaven is a unique coloring book featuring 40 illustrations to help you imagine the beauty of heaven, each accompanied by a devotion by Randy Alcorn, who writes frequently on the topic of heaven. Featuring metallic gold accents, lay-flat binding, and bright white paper.

My thoughts-

I think with the climate of today's society, many of us long for Heaven. There are definitely moments of high stress and anxiety for me within my own family life, and in life over all and sometimes I just need something to calm my nerves and remind me what awaits. Picturing Heaven is a great devotional focusing completely on Heaven. It is uplifting with wonderful Bible verses and has great reminders that our big picture is paradise with God. The gold and black color scheme of the pages are absolutely gorgeous and I love that Randy Alcorn has combined a devotional book with the calming art of coloring, which makes for a very peaceful experience. Picturing Heaven is the perfect gift to pair with gel pens or some nice colored pencils!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sadia by Colleen Nelson (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-

Sadia wishes life in high school was as straightforward as a game of basketball

Fifteen-year-old Sadia Ahmadi is passionate about one thing: basketball. Her best friend Nazreen, on the other hand, wants to get noticed by the popular crowd and has started de-jabbing, removing her hijab, at school every morning. Sadia’s mom had warned her that navigating high school could be tricky. As much as she hates to admit it, her mom was right.

When tryouts for an elite basketball team are announced, Sadia jumps at the opportunity. Her talent speaks for itself. Her head scarf, on the other hand, is a problem; especially when a discriminatory rule means she has to choose between removing her hijab and not playing. Nazreen, Sadia’s parents, and her teammates all have different opinions about what she should do. But it is Sadia who has to find the courage to stand up for herself and fight for what is right — on and off the court.

My thoughts-

When I want something quick to read I always look to Young Adult novels. I love the quick pace of them, but also that they are usually full of emotion. I wanted to read Sadia because it was a perspective of someone different from me, and I think that diversifying your reading can help you be a more understanding person. I thought the author did a great job of letting us see high school and the world through Sadia's eyes. Her parents are pretty laid back for Muslims (I grew up in a house with a pretty strict Muslim step parent), but shows that just like in any religion there are varying degrees of personality through her two Muslim friends. I also liked that the author touched on the crisis going on in Syria. It is good to expose kids and young adults to current events. I loved that basketball was Sadia's passion, and enjoyed seeing her team have her back when she ran into some problems with rules and regulations, but I absolutely loved the side plot about the photography and passion projects. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA fiction or anyone who may want to step into someone else's shoes for a few hours via Sadia's story.

T-H-B by Randy C. Dockens (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Buoyancy PR 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-

Luke has his dream job being an astrophysicist at the Houston Aeorspace Engineering Center preparing for the upcoming Mars mission. He even has a blooming romance with Sarah, a physician where he works.  Life in 2089 is good- couldn't be better. Until...until he makes that fateful choice. The decision to pick up that small piece of paper containing three simple letters plunges him into a conspiracy of memory manipulation caused by a secreat organization. Why is it occurring? Every direction he turns points him to T-H-B. Would finding it provide answers, or will it make him an enemy to the entire world?

My thoughts-

The description of this book sounded so intriguing. I love the fast pace of suspense novels and all of the trying to figure out exactly where things are going in the book. I like that it also had a touch of sci-fi and romance, which I think helped make it a more well rounded book. T-H-B was a quick page turning read as you want to see what is happening with Luke and friends, and learn exactly what T-H-B is and what is going on with the mind control elements and who exactly are the bad guys? By the end of the book, I felt like I had more questions unanswered than answered, but hopefully book two will help explain things a little better. I can't wait to see where things are headed. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys suspense novels. T-H-B would make a fantastic Christmas gift for a book lover!

F-S-H-S: Book Two of The Coded Message Trilogy, is planned for release in June 2018, followed in September 2018 by the third and final book, T-U-L-E: Book Three of The Coded Message Trilogy.


Friday, December 8, 2017

A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck (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. 

“In the blink of an eye, A Short History of the Girl Next Door goes from hilarious to haunting to harrowing to heartbreaking to hopeful and back. You’ll never be sure exactly what kind of tears you’re crying. The riotously funny and achingly authentic voice of this gorgeous coming-of-age story will break your heart, but have no fear: it will piece it back together with the glue of love, hope, and humor, and it will be stronger than before.”

 —Jeff Zentner, award-winning author of The Serpent Kingand Goodbye Days

My thoughts-

This. Book. I can not believe this was a debut novel. I was enthralled from the beginning with the strong bond between Matt Wainright and Tabby, his neighbor, BFF, and secret love. I read A Short History of the Girl Next Door on my flight to Las Vegas the other day, and didn't expect the emotional gut punch in the middle. I am sure I probably got a few looks because of all of the tears, but to me, that is the sign of an excellent book...tears of laughter, tears of sorrow, tears of joy, tears of hope, and this one contained them all. I think this was an excellent read, a superb first novel, and definitely a book I will be recommending to my book club. I recommend this book to any fans of Young Adult fiction, but particularly to fans of Jeff Zentner and John Green. Just have the tissues ready. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris & Shelly Brown

*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-

Maddie is a normal twelve-year-old girl. Well, except for the fake mustaches she carries in her pocket. She likes to make people laugh and slapping on a mustache, especially a fuzzy pink or neon green one, always gets a smile. Maddie hopes that the class queen, Cassie, will find her mustaches as funny as she does and want to play with her at recess. She's been self-conscious lately because her right arm only feels normal when it's curled against her chest and she's constantly tripping over her feet. But that's probably just part of growing up and not something weird, right?

When Maddie's arm continues to bother her, her parents take her to a doctor who gives them a shocking diagnosis: the cause of the abnormal behavior of her limbs is a brain tumor and she must have surgery to remove it. She's understandably afraid as he describes the procedure, but knows she must find a way to be brave and must face her fears--all of them--at the hospital, at home and at school.

She will need all of her courage not only to face her illness, but also to face Cassie at school. Both Cassie and Maddie are auditioning for the same role in the school play, but when Cassie accuses Maddie of lying about her tumor in order to get attention, Cassie's bossiness turns into bullying.

And as Maddie's surgery approaches, she begins to worry more and more about the outcome. What if something goes wrong? What if the doctors don't get all the tumor out of her brain? What will happen to her family? What will happen to her?

It will take all of Maddie's vibrant imagination, a lot of kindness-both given and received-and of course, the perfect mustache to overcome the tough stuff ahead of her.


My thoughts-

When I first started reading Mustaches for Maddie I was not sure I would finish. The beginning part was so slow for me, but I am glad I stuck through that very short lived slowness because I really ended up liking this book. It was full of humor, drama, and life lessons. This is the exact kind of book I hope my daughter will gravitate towards now that they are older. I think the fact that the book was based on an actual kid's experience will make it resonate more with it's audience. I enjoyed the quirkiness, but also that a serious issue like dealing with a brain tumor is seen from a child's point of view, which may help kids deal better with an issue they may be going through. I also liked that empathy for others became a central theme in Mustaches for Maddie

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Otherworld by Jason Segel & Kristen Miller

*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-

New York Times bestselling authors Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller imagine a world in which you can leave your body behind and give into your greatest desires in the first book in a new trilogy perfect for fans of Ready Player One and James Dashner’s The Eye of Minds. The future is now. And the future is terrifying.

That’s how Otherworld traps you. It introduces you to sensations you’d never be able to feel in real life. You discover what’s been missing—because it’s taboo or illegal or because you lack the guts to do it for real. And when you find out what’s missing it’s almost impossible to let it go again.

There are no screens. There are no controls. You don’t just see and hear it—you taste, smell, and touch it too. In this new reality, there are no laws to break or rules to obey. You can live your best life. Indulge every desire.

It’s a game so addictive you’ll never want it to end. Until you realize that you’re the one being played. Welcome to Otherworld, where reality is dead. Step into the future. Leave your body behind.

The frightening future that Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller have imagined is not far away. Otherworld asks the question we'll all soon be asking: if technology can deliver everything we want, how much are we willing to pay?


My thoughts-

I was excited to see that Jason Segel has segued into the Young Adult genre from his previous foray into Middle Grade fiction. I enjoyed his Nightmare books, and I will pretty much read anything he is involved in so it was a given I was going to read Otherworld. To me, this was a new type of sub-genre, as I haven't read too many gamer themed novels, but I really enjoyed the feel of the book. The plot was interesting and dramatic, there was a good amount of suspense, and for the hopeless romantic in me, there was a love story. I read Otherworld in one day because I just couldn't put it down. There was a lot of action in the video game world, and a lot of story line in both the real world and in the virtual reality world.  As much as we are currently addicted to our electronics, this book was an interesting take on addiction and taking technology too far. Otherworld was a winning effort for Segel and his writing partner Kristen Miller, and I can not wait to see what happens in the next book in the series!

























Saturday, November 11, 2017

Nothing Happens in This Book by Judy Ann Sadler

*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. 

One of my 8 year old boys was looking for something new to read and this book caught his eye on Netgalley so I requested it for him so we could read it together. It did not disappoint. Although it is a picture book, it reminds me a lot of The Book With No Pictures by BJ Novak because it does a great job of engaging kids through humor. My son Noah also said that he really liked this book because it was so funny and that the pictures in it make it funnier. He giggled throughout reading it and wanted to immediately read it again. I recommend this book to anyone with kids ages 4-8. We absolutely love it!

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

*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 stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

Mary Davies finds safety in her ordered and productive life. Working as an engineer, she genuinely enjoys her job and her colleagues – particularly a certain adorable and intelligent consultant. But something is missing. When Mary’s estranged childhood friend, Isabel Dwyer offers her a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in England, she reluctantly agrees in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways.
But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes she lives in Jane Austen’s Bath.  While Isabel rests and delights in the leisure of a Regency lady, attended by the other costume-clad guests, Mary uncovers startling truths about their shared past, who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who now stands between them. 
Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings play out, and dancing ensues as this company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation, work out their lives and hearts. 

My thoughts-

I will pretty much read anything that is any kind of take on anything Jane Austen. The Austen Escape was super fun because it wasn't just a retelling of one book, it had aspects of them all and Regency era role playing to boot! I wanted to be in Bath at the  Braithwaite house role playing along with Mary and Isabel. This book was everything a good Jane Austen book would be, full of equal parts drama and romance. My favorite character was definitely Nathan. I would recommend this book to any Austen fan! 


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Deliciously Keto Cookbook by Molly Pearl and Kelly Roehl

*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- 

The Ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb diet originally developed to reduce the frequency of seizures in epilepsy patients. More recently, however, it has found a mainstream audience who view it as a real foods-based diet with weight loss and other overall health benefits. By focusing on dietary fat and ketones instead of simple carb-derived glucose as a primary energy source, the body becomes more efficient at burning body fat and is spared the conversion of leftover glucose calories into body fat. The Deliciously Keto Cookbook offers 150 deliciously satisfying recipes for breakfasts, appetizers, snacks, mains, desserts, and sides, all designed to help readers set and reach personal health and weight loss goals. The recipes follow a high fat/low protein/ultra low carb ratio designed to induce readers into a state of nutritional ketosis where they are consistently burning ketones (fat molecules) for energy instead of glucose (carbohydrates). Additionally, readers who have attained health goals and are looking to follow a longer-term maintenance program will benefit from simple modifications for each recipe that enable them to adjust the nutrient ratios to a slightly lower fat and slightly higher carbohydrate ratio. Also included: + Tips and tricks for cooking keto-friendly dishes, eating out on the keto diet, and managing the side effects, including the temporary "keto" flu that accompanies the induction of ketosis. + Helpful modifications that enable readers to modify recipes from a high fat induction phase to a moderate fat maintenance phase.

My thoughts-

I absolutely love that Deliciously Keto has a short intro to the Ketogenic way of eating for newbies and then goes straight into the recipes. This is a no frills book and that is exactly what I want and need sometimes. At this point in my Keto journey, I have bought and/or browsed through countless Keto cookbooks and I am thrilled to say there were some new and innovative recipes to be found here. The breakfast section, my favorite meal of the day, included several fantastic recipes that I can't wait to try. Another section I was super excited about in this book is the sides section, I really struggle there so it is always nice to have new ideas. There were a couple of recipes I was really excited about, especially the chicken tikka masala and the enchilada casserole. This book is a winner. I recommend this book to anyone eating a ketogenic or low carb lifestyle or anyone wanting some delicious new recipes to add to their meal plans! 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

How To Find Love in a Boookshop by Veronica Henry

*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 requited to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

The enchanting story of a bookshop, its grieving owner, a supportive literary community, and the extraordinary power of books to heal the heart 

Nightingale Books, nestled on the main street in an idyllic little village, is a dream come true for book lovers—a cozy haven and welcoming getaway for the literary-minded locals. But owner Emilia Nightingale is struggling to keep the shop open after her beloved father’s death, and the temptation to sell is getting stronger. The property developers are circling, yet Emilia's loyal customers have become like family, and she can't imagine breaking the promise she made to her father to keep the store alive. 

There's Sarah, owner of the stately Peasebrook Manor, who has used the bookshop as an escape in the past few years, but it now seems there’s a very specific reason for all those frequent visits. Next is roguish Jackson, who, after making a complete mess of his marriage, now looks to Emilia for advice on books for the son he misses so much. And the forever shy Thomasina, who runs a pop-up restaurant for two in her tiny cottage—she has a crush on a man she met in the cookbook section, but can hardly dream of working up the courage to admit her true feelings. 

Enter the world of Nightingale Books for a serving of romance, long-held secrets, and unexpected hopes for the future—and not just within the pages on the shelves. How to Find Love in a Bookshop is the delightful story of Emilia, the unforgettable cast of customers whose lives she has touched, and the books they all cherish.


My thoughts-

Sometimes a book comes along that grabs your attention from the very beginning. I was immediately drawn into this story and I liked that although the original bookshop owner had passed away that we get the opportunity to get to know him through flashbacks throughout the book. I found his backstory to be the most interesting out of the huge cast of characters. I wish the focus would have been more on Emilia and her father, but I enjoyed the stories of the bookshops patrons as well and did think that it was important to the overall story of how the bookshop effected all of these people. It makes me want to open my own bookshop even more than I already wanted to! This was a fun read with lots of references to great books.I recommend this book to any lover of books! 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

How to Instant Pot by Daniel Shumski (Cookbook 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-

Legions of home cooks are falling in love with the Instant Pot multipurpose pressure cooker, which does the work of a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, sauté pan, steamer, and chafing dish all in one. This collection of 100 easy, creative, boundary-pushing recipes makes ultimate use of this amazing and increasingly popular contraption. The only Instant Pot cookbook organized by function, with detailed instructions for mastering each, How to Instant Pot features dishes from satisfying breakfasts through tempting desserts, plus skill-building recipes that offer simple methods for basic dishes (Chicken Soup 3 Ways, No-Stir Polenta 3 Ways, Sweet Yogurt 3 Ways) and surprising hacks that make this already remarkable gadget even more indispensable. Hard-boil an egg in 5 minutes? Yup. Bake a potato in half the time? You bet. Quick pickle some veggies? Why not. Want to know how to Instant Pot? This book is all you need.


My thoughts-

I had been thinking about getting an Instant Pot for at least a year when I started dropping some heavy hints to my husband that it was what I wanted for my birthday back in January. Being the good hubby that he is, he immediately went out and got me one! At first glance, this "magic pot" as some fans affectionately call it, can look fairly intimidating, but once you get down how to work the thing, it is a kitchen must have! If all I ever did with it was boil eggs and make baked potatoes, both perfectly done in the pot, it would be worth the cost, but luckily there are so many other meals to be made! How to Instant Pot is full of delicious food ideas, but before it gets down to the recipes there is a section of basics at the beginning. Remember earlier when I said the Instant Pot could be intimidating? These basics will help you to get started and to see that it is actually super user friendly and easy to use! Then come the recipes! Barbacoa tacos, beef stew, and many other mouth watering main dishes are featured, as well as some great side dishes and desserts. This book is the perfect cookbook and manual for any person who is new to the Instant Pot world or fun anyone looking for fun new electric pressure cooker recipes!
















Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Almost Gone by John Baldwin & Mackenzie Baldwin (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-

This is the never-before-told, riveting true story about a teenage Christian girl who was seduced online by a charming young Muslim man from Kosovo, and her father who ultimately worked with the FBI to save her from disappearing forever.

Told from the viewpoint of both father and daughter, Almost Gone follows Mackenzie’s network of lies and deceit and her parents’ escalating bewilderment and alarm. More than a cautionary tale, this is the incredible story of unconditional parental love, unwavering faith, and how God helped a family save their daughter from a relationship that jeopardized not only her happiness, but also her safety.

My thoughts-


This was one intense book. I wanted to read Almost Gone because this happened right in my backyard. I live 20 minutes away from Plano, TX where Mackenzie Baldwin grew up and this situation went down. I commiserated with and felt deep empathy for her parents as I read from her father John's perspective and as these events unfolded for him and he and his wife figured out what was going on and had very little time to put a plan into place that would ultimately save their daughter from what could have been a very bad situation. I commend Mackenzie for being strong enough to share her story in hopes that it might help other girls her age from making the same mistakes. What I took away was to never assume your kids won't do something no matter how far fetched it is, no matter how many times you have told them not to or talked to them about the danger of things, even a smart kid at 17 or 18 years old can fall victim to the pitfalls of internet relationships. I was happy this story had a happy ending and the Baldwin's shared the whole thing, painful as it must be, to help others. I recommend this book to anyone who reads non-fiction.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

31 Proverbs To Light Your Path by Liz Curtis Higgs (Book Review)

*Dislcosure 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-

Take Heart, Beloved.
His Light Is Shining,
And Your Path Is Clear.


Wherever you are on your journey, here is the wisdom you need for the road ahead. Maybe you’re stuck and want to move forward. Or you feel anxious and long to know what’s next. Or you’re ready for an uplifting reminder that God holds your future in His loving hands.

Chosen by hundreds of women as their favorite verses in Proverbs, these thirty-one nuggets of truth reveal how faithfully God honors His promise, “I will instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths” (Proverbs 4:11).

Best-selling author Liz Curtis Higgs examines each word with care and adds a sprinkling of humor through her honest stories and personal examples. For each verse you’ll find a unique “One Minute, One Step” challenge—a do-it-now task that requires one minute or less. You’ll soon discover how practical and meaningful the book of Proverbs is as you apply its ancient wisdom to your thoroughly modern life.

With a study guide included, 31 Proverbs to Light Your Path is a daily devotional and a small-group Bible study, wrapped in a beautiful gift book brimming with encouragement!

My thoughts-

31 Proverbs to Light Your Path is a gorgeous book, worthy of gift giving. The cover is a beautiful start to a fantastic book full of great insight and encouragement. There 31 chapters for 31 proverbs, a little personal anecdote at the beginning of each chapter, and a great devotional that follows close behind. At the end of each chapter is a page entitled "One Minute, One Step which gives a quick tip for drawing nearer to God through your actions. I also liked that there was a study guide at the end of the book to even further help you get a whole pictures of Proverbs by challenging you to answer questions. I recommend this book to any Christian looking for encouragement or as a gift to someone you would like to encourage to grow in their relationship with God.

The Proving by Beverly Lewis (Book Review)

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

Amish Fiction's #1 Author Presents a Touching Story of Perseverance and Second Chances
Amanda Dienner hasn't seen her Old Order family in five years when she receives word that her mother has passed away and left her Lancaster County's most popular Amish bed-and-breakfast. Now an Englisher, Mandy is shocked: Her twin sister should have been the obvious choice! What's more, the inheritance comes with a catch: The farmhouse inn will only truly be hers if she is able to successfully run it for twelve consecutive months.
Mandy accepts the challenge even though it means returning to Gordonville and the painful memories she left behind at eighteen. Still, she's determined to prove she is more than capable of running the bed-and-breakfast, no matter that its loyal clientele are expecting an Amish hostess!
The inn isn't Mandy's sole test, however. Rubbing shoulders with her married twin sister reopens wounds that Mandy isn't ready to forgive. And an Englisher guest with a difficult past of her own just complicates matters.
Can Mandy fulfill the terms of her inheritance? Or will this year in Amish country prove a dreadful mistake?

My thoughts-

I have read so many Amish fiction novels that I always think that there is no way an author can think of a spin on this type of story that I haven't already read. Beverly Lewis always manages to prove me long. This was an interesting story overall with Amanda Dienner coming back to take over her mother's bed-and-breakfast, coming back to the family she has been estranged from,including her twin sister. I enjoyed watching Mandy's story unravel but I also equally, if not more, enjoyed Trina's story in the novel. I would love to get away to this Inn. I wish it existed in reality! I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Amish Fiction. 







Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sweet Tea & Sympathy by Molly Harper

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

About the book-

Nestled on the shore of Lake Sackett, Georgia is the McCready Family Funeral Home and Bait Shop. (What, you have a problem with one-stop shopping?) Two McCready brothers started two separate businesses in the same building back in 1928, and now it’s become one big family affair. And true to form in small Southern towns, family business becomes everybody’s business.

Margot Cary has spent her life immersed in everything Lake Sackett is not. As an elite event planner, Margot’s rubbed elbows with the cream of Chicago society, and made elegance and glamour her business. She’s riding high until one event goes tragically, spectacularly wrong. Now she’s blackballed by the gala set and in dire need of a fresh start—and apparently the McCreadys are in need of an event planner with a tarnished reputation.

As Margot finds her footing in a town where everybody knows not only your name, but what you had for dinner last Saturday night and what you’ll wear to church on Sunday morning, she grudgingly has to admit that there are some things Lake Sackett does better than Chicago—including the dating prospects. Elementary school principal Kyle Archer is a fellow fish-out-of-water who volunteers to show Margot the picture-postcard side of Southern living. The two of them hit it off, but not everybody is happy to see an outsider snapping up one of the town's most eligible gentleman. Will Margot reel in her handsome fish, or will she have to release her latest catch?


My thoughts-

I LOVED this book. Absolutely loved it! I love stories set in small towns like these and the southern humor is just spot on! This reminded me of many of may favorite stories set in small town, particularly Steel Magnolias (without the outrageously sad undertone) and especially the television show Hart of Dixie. I enjoy Margot's fish out of water story, and how she comes to be comfortable, and even love where she is. and of course I love the fabulous romantic interest we find for Margot in Kyle Archer. I am so glad this will be a book series. I already can not wait to see what happens in the next one! I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys women's fiction.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Visit the World Famous Madame Tussaud's in Las Vegas + $5 up (for up to 10)

Prepare yourself to take pictures with all of your favorite celebrities at Madame Tussaud's in Las Vegas. Located on the famous Las Vegas strip, Madame Tussaud's has wax figures of all of your favorite, a list actors, musicians, sports superstars, and super heroes!
Don't forget to check out the Marvel Super Heroes 4D Experience while you are there, which includes high impact special effects!



$5 off coupon below! (Good for up to TEN people)!!

Get $5 off your admission to Madame Tussauds Las Vegas when you present the box office with this coupon.

*Present this coupon at the box office and receive $5.00 off each admission. Coupon valid up to 10 people. Cannot be combined with any other offers. Not valid on previously purchased tickets. No cash value. Not for resale. Management reserves all rights. The images show depict wax figures created and owned by Madame Tussauds. 2017 Madame Tussauds. TM & Warner Brothers Entertainment, Inc.

Promotional Code: USFAMILY

http://usfamilycoupons.com/coupon.php… .@usfg


*I will be provided the opportunity for free admission in via U.S. Family Guide exchange for this promotional post + my honest review of the museum

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Texas Slow Cooker by Cheryl Jamison

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 stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

Even great cooks, such as Cheryl Jamison, one of the preeminent authorities on American regional cuisine and the author of many award-winning cookbooks, occasionally prefer the make-ahead convenience, easy cleanup, and depth of slow-cooked flavor that you get when you use a slow cooker.

Co-author of the pioneering book Texas Home Cooking, Cheryl reveals in these pages that a stunning range of Lone Star gems, from chilis and stews to enchiladas and roasts, from bean or rice dishes to beef, bison, poultry, and shrimp, come out of the slow cooker brimming with flavor--and with a minimum of fuss for the cook.

These 125 recipes are full of delectable, down-home goodness, each one at least as good as its version from outside the slow cooker. 

My thoughts-

If you throw Texas in the title of a cookbook, I am likely going to check it out to see if it's a. really Texan, and b. full of deliciousness. I think Cheryl Jamison has succeeded in meeting my criteria. The Texas Slow Cooker is full of fantastically Texan food. I would literally try any recipe in this book. I especially liked the section on chilis (although some would argue any chili with beans is quite in-Texan, I am willing to try any variation on one of my favorite meal time staples).  The sides are also worth mentioning, especially the Mac 'n cheese with a Texas Twist. And of course, the book is full of  fabulous desserts. Particularly notable are the peach cobbler, and Margarita cheesecake. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys utilizing their slow cooker, or who loves good downhome southern food.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Santa's Countdown to Christmas by Kim Thompson (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-

Help little ones be patient until Christmas with this storytelling twist on the timeless Advent tradition. Each day, starting December 1st and counting down to Christmas Eve, children can read a story that recounts how Santa and Ms. Claus, the elves and the reindeer get ready for the big night ahead, from Santa’s initial fitness test (will he make it through the chimney this year?) to a behind-the-scenes look at Santa’s toy factory. A book that captures all the excitement and the magic of the holiday season.

My thoughts-

I love reading books with my kids in December all the way through until Christmas night. This is the perfect book to read to lead ones, to help build excitement, and to spend precious quality time together. The book has adorable illustrations and the daily stories are short enough that they will hold the attention of nearly any kid.  Santa's Countdown to Christmas would be great combined with an advent calendar to make the overall countdown to Christmas super exciting!

The Anne of Green Gables Cookbooks by Kate Macdonald

*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-

Avonlea beckons in this cookbook inspired by the most famous Canadian children's book, L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables. "Kindred spirits" both young and old will enjoy experiencing late-nineteenth-century Prince Edward Island firsthand through the delicious recipes culled from the eight books in the Anne of Green Gables series.

From Poetical Egg Salad Sandwiches, to Anne's Liniment Cake and Diana Barry's Favorite Raspberry Cordial, these recipes are easy to prepare and delicious to serve up any day, on a weekend, or for special occasions! With full-color photography, whimsical illustrations, and quotes and anecdotes from the books, get ready to be immersed in Anne Shirley's world.

My thoughts-

The cover art on this cookbook is so beautiful, and so very Anne, I couldn't resist. The cookbook is filled with treats mentioned in the Anne of Green Gables series, which are like a step back in time, but still will hold up today. For fans of Anne Shirley, this is a must have. The cookbook is short but filled with beautiful pictures and illustrations and will help you relive some of the food moments from such a wonderful book series.

The Keto Reset Diet by Mark Sisson

*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 started are 100% my own.

About the book-

With The Keto Reset Diet, you can eat to total satisfaction by enjoying rich, high-satiety foods, and even weather occasional slip-ups. You’ll use keto as a lifelong tool to stay trim, healthy, energetic, and free from the disastrous health conditions caused by the typical American diet. With step-by-step guidance, daily meal plans and a recipe section with over 100 delicious keto-friendly recipes, this is the definitive guide to help the keto-beginner or the experienced health enthusiast understand the what, why, and how to succeed with ketogenic eating.

My thoughts-

I have actually already been following a Ketogenic diet since August, but I think you can never learn too much about a subject, especially if it is one you adhere to, and I can never have enough recipes, so that was a big draw for me too. I read this book all in one setting the second it arrived on my doorstep. I thought that it got wordy in some places, probably because a lot of this was reiteration for me of things I already knew, but this will be a fantastic resource for Keto newbies! The only thing I don't like is that there are no pictures to go along with each recipe, but there is a great variety of recipes to choose from, as well as meal plans to help you reset your body. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to take control of their health.


Monday, October 2, 2017

Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber (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-

Christmas is the season of the heart, and #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber is here to warm yours with a delightful holiday novel of first impressions and second chances.
Merry Smith is pretty busy these days. She’s taking care of her family, baking cookies, decorating for the holidays, and hoping to stay out of the crosshairs of her stressed and by-the-book boss at the consulting firm where she temps. Her own social life is the last thing she has in mind, much less a man. Without her knowledge, Merry’s well-meaning mom and brother create an online dating profile for her—minus her photo—and the matches start rolling in. Initially, Merry is incredulous, but she reluctantly decides to give it a whirl.

Soon Merry finds herself chatting with a charming stranger, a man with similar interests and an unmistakably kind soul. Their online exchanges become the brightest part of her day. But meeting face-to-face is altogether different, and her special friend is the last person Merry expects—or desires. Still, sometimes hearts can see what our eyes cannot. In this satisfying seasonal tale, unanticipated love is only a click away.

My thoughts-

Every year by the beginning of October I am itching to read a good Christmas romance. Yesterday, on the 1st day of October, I started reading Merry & Bright and it was exactly the type of Christmas novel I love. It was so good I read it all in one sitting! I love the play on words title for the Christmas season with the two main character's names! It just makes this book even more cute. I found myself rooting for Merry and Jayson from the second he created his online dating profile. I loved the humor and romance, and that this could be read in a few short hours since I didn't want to put it down. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a lighthearted romance.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Queso! by Lisa Fain (Cookbook 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-

A fun, full-color look at everyone's favorite cheese dip, with history, tips, facts, and 50 recipes from beloved food blogger Lisa Fain, "the Homesick Texan."
Queso (aka chile con queso) is a spicy, cheesy, comforting cult favorite that has long been a delicious addition to any party, barbecue, or family gathering. This appealing and accessible book features a mix of down-home standards and contemporary updates, from historical, regional, and Mexican quesos to vegan and dessert quesos, including Chile Verde Con Queso, Squash Blossom Queso Fundido, Fajita Queso, Cactus and Corn Queso Poblano, Frito Salad with Queso Dressing, Pulled Pork Queso Blanco, and Sausage Queso Biscuits. Whether you're relaxing with friends, having a few people over to watch the football game, or entertaining a hungry crowd, queso is the perfect party food for good times.

My thoughts-


I loved the first cookbook that Lisa Fain put out called The Homesick Texan. There were tons of great recipes to be found in that one so when I saw this book, completely devoted to Queso, I couldn't wait to see what was in it!  We Texans love our queso! I learned in this book that many other regions of the country, particularly in the south, also love their queso, and have their own twist on it. I loved reading the history of queso in different places, and there are a couple I would probably even try, but being a Texan and a foodie, of course I think we make it here is *the* way to go. Still, it never hurts to have a new way or two to try out. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys appetizer recipes, party food recipes, or food blogs.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Box of Awesome Things Matching Game Review

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

My kids absolutely love playing games. They are older elementary aged so this game is a little younger than what they would normally go for, but because of the beautiful and bright patterns on the match cards, they were all interested in playing, even my ten year old. This game is awesome for younger kids, but I think a fun throw back for kids that are slightly past the intended age because they can also play this as a solitary game and the patterns are super cute! A Box of Awesome Things Matching Game would make a great gift for younger kids.

Friday, September 22, 2017

50 Cities of the U.S.A. by Gabrielle Balkan (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.

My thoughts-

From the team that brought you The 50 States comes 50 Cities of the USA. Explore skycraper streets, museum miles, local food trucks and city parks from Anchorage to Washington D.C., and discover more than 2,000 facts that celebrate the people, culture, and diversity that have helped make America what it is today.

Cities include Anchorage • Atlanta • Austin • Baltimore • Birmingham • Boise • Boston • Burlington • Charleston     Charlotte • Cheyenne • Chicago • Cleveland • Columbus • Denver • Detroit • Hartford • Honolulu • Houston   Indianapolis • Jacksonville • Kansas City • Las Vegas • Little Rock • Los Angeles • Louisville • Memphis   Miami • Milwaukee • Minneapolis-St. Paul   Nashville • New Orleans • New York • Newark • Newport • Oklahoma City • Philadelphia • Phoenix • Pittsburgh • Portland, ME • Portland, OR • Rapid City • Salt Lake City • San Francisco • Santa Fe • Seattle • St. Louis • Tucson • Virginia Beach • Washington, D.C.

My thoughts-

50 Cities of the U.S.A. is a great book for introducing your kids to other places in the United States. It is a really cool book that kids ages 7-11 would likely enjoy. My little geography buff absolutely loved seeing all of the facts about these different cities, and seeing just how different cities within the same country, and some even within the same state, can be vastly different. We talked about the places we have already been, and the places we would love to go visit. I recommend this book for older elementary aged kids.

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe (by Melissa De La Cruz (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-

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe from New York Times bestselling author, Melissa de la Cruz, is a sweet, sexy and hilarious gender-swapping, genre-satisfying re-telling, set in contemporary America and featuring one snooty Miss Darcy.
Darcy Fitzwilliam is 29, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones—one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she comes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her family.
Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets one Luke Bennet, the smart, sardonic slacker son of their neighbor. Luke is 32-years-old and has never left home. He’s a carpenter and makes beautiful furniture, and is content with his simple life. He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other. When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it’s just another one night stand. But why can’t she stop thinking of Luke? What is it about him? And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way?

My thoughts-

I will read pretty much read anything that is an adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, and I have never come across one with a gender reversal on the main characters, so I was excited to come across this one. This adaptation was a modern version of the novel, with Darcy Fitzwilliam being a successful businesswoman. Somehow this Darcy was not as endearing as Austen's Darcy, who was downright swoonworthy by the end of the novel, but this Dary also was more likeable by the end. It definitely read like chick lit and I enjoyed the lighthearted feel of it, and thought it was a great read to get amped up for the upcoming holiday season. I would recommend this to any Jane Austen fan, or anyone who enjoys a light women's fiction novel.















Thursday, September 21, 2017

Birthdays Around the World by Margriet Ruurs (Book Review)

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

I love children's books like this because it gives me the opportunity to expose my kids to other cultures and traditions. We get books like this often at the library but I have never seen one specifically about birthday celebrations. I have one child in particular that is super interested in geography and other cultures so he and I looked at this book together. His verdict: this book is awesome! We enjoyed learning about some of  the birthday traditions in some other far away lands, and even some closer to home. This is a fun book for any kid to read. It also might be a fun way to incorporate new Birthday traditions!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Keto For Cancer by Miriam Kalamian (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-

Although evidence supporting the benefits of ketogenic diet therapies continues to mount, there is little to guide those who wish to adopt this diet as a metabolic therapy for cancer. Keto for Cancer fills this need.
Inspired by the work of Dr. Thomas N. Seyfried, keto nutrition specialist Miriam Kalamian has drawn on a decade of experience to write the first book to lay out comprehensive guidelines that specifically address the many diet and lifestyle challenges associated with a cancer diagnosis.
Kalamian, a leading voice in the keto movement, is driven by passion from her own experience in using the ketogenic diet for her young son whose com­pelling story is woven throughout the narrative. Her book addresses the nuts and bolts of adopting the diet, from deciding whether keto is the right choice to developing a personal plan for smoothly navigating the keto lifestyle. It is invaluable for both beginners and seasoned users of the ketogenic diet, as well as for health-care professionals who need a toolkit to implement this targeted metabolic therapy
The book guides readers to a deeper understanding of the therapeutic potential of the ketogenic diet-which extends well beyond simply starving cancer-emphasizing the powerful impact the diet has on the metabolism of cancer cells. Nutritional nuances are explored in sections such as "Which Fast­ing Plan Is Best for You" and "Redefine Your Relationship with Sugar," while simple meal templates and tracking tools are provided in "Plan for Success."
Kalamian also discusses the importance of self-advocacy and empowers readers to get off the bench and "get in the game." Keto for Cancer is a playbook of tips and strategies for cancer management that can be incorporated into a truly personalized treatment plan.

My thoughts-

I don't have cancer but I have an enormous family history of it. I currently have 3 great aunts and uncles all battling different types of cancer, and have seen many more family members fight battles the last five years or so. I started following a ketogenic diet myself back in late July and I have noticed how much better I feel so I wanted to gather information to share with my family. Keto For Cancer is a comprehensive overview. It explains the science behind the ketogenic diet, the difference between it vs. Atkins, and the author's personal journey with her own son. The beginning of the book is about the science and reads a little bit like a medical journal so it might be difficult for some to follow,  but after that the tone becomes more conversational. I really liked that the author included all of the things an oncologist might say to discourage a ketogenic diet, mostly due to lack of information on their part about the diet, so that you will be armed with the information of why this way of eating can help people dealing with cancer. Since Keto is a sugar free diet this makes total since to me since cancer feeds off of sugar. I recommend this book to not only anyone going through cancer, but to anyone with a family history of cancer.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

*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-

Shortlisted for the Giller Prize • A local schoolteacher is arrested for a heinous crime, leaving his family to wrestle with the possibility of his guilt in this exquisite novel about loyalty, truth, and happiness.
The Woodburys cherish life in the affluent, bucolic suburb of Avalon Hills, Connecticut. George is a beloved science teacher at the local prep school, a hero who once thwarted a gunman, and his wife, Joan, is a hardworking ER nurse. They have brought up their children in this thriving town of wooded yards and sprawling lakes.

Then one night a police car pulls up to the Woodbury home and George is charged with sexual misconduct—with students from his daughter’s school. As he sits in prison awaiting trial and claiming innocence—is it possible?—Joan vaults between denial and rage as friends and neighbors turn cold. Their daughter, seventeen-year-old Sadie, is a popular high school senior who becomes a social outcast—and finds refuge in an unexpected place. Her brother, Andrew, a lawyer in New York, returns home to support the family, only to confront unhappy memories from his past. A writer tries to exploit their story, while an unlikely men’s rights activist group attempts to recruit Sadie for their cause.

Provocative and unforgettable, The Best Kind of People reveals the cracks along the seams of even the most perfect lives and the unraveling of an American family.

My thoughts-

I thought the premise behind this book sounded interesting, a hero or a villain? Can one be both? That said, the book did not at all flow at all the way I imagined it would. I thought it would be more about the charges against George, and his impending trial. I did think it was an interesting look into the behind the scenes of what a family goes through when their loved one is accused of a heinous crime that becomes high profile. I didn't at all mind the insight into the family's struggle, I was just disappointed to not get the trial or thoughts of George, it seemed almost like an afterthought. If you go into reading the book realizing it is more about the family than about the crime and procedure, then you will probably enjoy the book.