Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore (Book Review)

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

About the book-

The incredible true story of the young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium and their brave struggle for justice...

As World War I raged across the globe, hundreds of young women toiled away at the radium-dial factories, where they painted clock faces with a mysterious new substance called radium. Assured by their bosses that the luminous material was safe, the women themselves shone brightly in the dark, covered from head to toe with the glowing dust. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” were considered the luckiest alive—until they began to fall mysteriously ill. As the fatal poison of the radium took hold, they found themselves embroiled in one of America’s biggest scandals and a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights.

A rich, historical narrative written in a sparkling voice, The Radium Girls is the first book that fully explores the strength of extraordinary women in the face of almost impossible circumstances and the astonishing legacy they left behind.

Kate Moore is a Sunday Times best selling writer with more than a decade’s experience writing and ghosting across varying genres, including memoir, biography, and history. In 2005 she directed a critically acclaimed play about the Radium Girls called ‘These Shining Lives.’ She lives in the UK.

My thoughts-

I had never heard of the radium girls before coming across this book. I will always read an interesting story, and I enjoy learning new things about history that I didn't previously know so this was a good read for me. The Radium Girls is a heartbreaking account of the young women who were working in radium factories during the first world war. This book will enrage you. The lengths to which this company went to not be held liable for the illness they caused so many women is infuriating. These women were dying, some of their friends already dead before they took their story to court, and they still were not taking ownership of their misdeeds. The Radium Girls is a little bit on the long side, but it is broken up into three sections and there are also many girls' stories to be told. If you enjoy books about history, you will probably enjoy The Radium Girls.




Saturday, April 1, 2017

Life After by Katie Ganshert (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 are 100% my own.

About the book-

It could have been me.Snow whirls around an elevated train platform in Chicago. A distracted woman boards the train, takes her seat, and moments later a fiery explosion rips through the frigid air, tearing the car apart in a horrific attack on the city’s transit system. One life is spared. Twenty-two are lost.

A year later, Autumn Manning can’t remember the day of the bombing and she is tormented by grief—by guilt. Twelve months of the question constantly echoing. Why? Why? Why? Searching for answers, she haunts the lives of the victims, unable to rest.

Paul Elliott lost his wife in the train bombing and wants to let the dead rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to cause more pain for his loved ones. He wants normalcy for his twelve-year-old daughter and young son, to see them move beyond the heartbreak. But when the Elliotts and Autumn are unexpectedly forced together, he fears she’ll bring more wreckage in her wake. 

In Life After, Katie Ganshert’s most complex and unforgettable novel yet, the stirring prose and authentic characters pose questions of truth, goodness, and ultimate purpose in this emotionally resonant tale.


My thoughts-

I don't know how she does it, but Katie Ganshert consistently outdoes her previous work with each new book. I've yet to read a book she's written that I didn't immediate fall in love with. Ganshert is great at writing relatable characters with imperfections and faults, the easiest characters to relate to when reading. Life After is very different from any of her other novels with this added huge thing of a train exploding that kills everyone on board but one sole survivor, Autumn. This is the story of Autumn wanting to tell the stories of those who perished. Her mission leads her on a journey of learning about the others who welcome her with open arms, with the exception of one, Paul Elliot, who wants to leave the past in the past. It was difficult to go on this journey with Autumn, but it was a story that gripped me from the very beginning and had me until the end. I absolutely loved this book and I think anyone who enjoys contemporary women's fiction will enjoy it as well.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Polygamist's Daughter by Anna LeBaron (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from Tyndale Publisher's via their Tyndale Blogging Network 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-

My father had thirteen wives and more than fifty children . . .This is the haunting memoir of Anna LeBaron, daughter of the notorious polygamist and murderer Ervil LeBaron. Ervil’s criminal activity kept Anna and her siblings constantly on the run from the FBI. Often starving, the children lived in a perpetual state of fear—and despite their numbers, Anna always felt alone. Would she ever find a place she truly belonged? Would she ever be anything other than the polygamist’s daughter?

Filled with murder, fear, and betrayal, The Polygamist’s Daughter is the harrowing, heart-wrenching story of a fatherless girl and her unwavering search for love, faith, and a place to call home.

My thoughts-

I am fascinated by what I can't understand, as I think many people are, and something lately has me particularly interested in the fundamentalist Mormon group that Anna LeBaron was once a part of, mainly because she was born into it. The good majority of the memoir is heartbreaking. This kid is dumped on other people in different places, never sees her parents, is forced to work for nothing and never knows what's going on. I could not imagine a childhood like that. She could wake up one day and be living in Texas only to be told that now she is moving to Mexico. Beyond the fact that her childhood without her parents must have been super confusing, her father lead the cult and is known to have committed or ordered many murders on people who he felt had a wavering faith or on rivals who he felt threatened by. Anna had only met this man a handful of times. Who knows how many other kids he had with how many other wives! Luckily, one of her older sisters and her husband who had left the cult adopted a parental role with Anna and took her under their wing. Sadly, there was still more tragedy to come, but I don't want to spoil the book for anyone so you will have to pick it up to see what happened. The Polygamist's Daughter will make you angry, sad, confused, and probably make you feel more empathetic to the people born into this cult. It will open your eyes and give you more of a direct look into what life was like for someone who didn't choose this path and the danger it can create trying to escape it. I recommend this book to people who enjoy memoirs.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse (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-

With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter dares to hope that she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.
But the reality of becoming parents proves much harder than Lucy and Jonah imagined. Jonah’s love and support is unquestioning, but as Lucy struggles with work and her own failing dreams, the strain on their marriage increases. Suddenly it feels like Lucy is close to losing everything…
Heart-wrenching and poignant, this latest work by bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: what does it mean to be a mother in today’s hectic world? And what if it’s asking too much to want it all?

My thoughts-

I would like to start off this review saying that The Idea of You contains very sensitive subject matter of miscarriage that might be difficult for some people to read. If this is you, you probably want to skip this book. For others it might be therapeutic, for me it was eye opening. This book was full of heart wrenching pages, from what I gather from the author's note at the end, Lucy Carpenter is having some of the same struggles she has in reality. The Idea of You was full of sadness and frustration, but poignant and full of hope. It is interlaced with great humor and sweet husband, so that helped break up some of the more dramatic and serious scenes. I read the book in one sitting, I couldn't put it down, but some of it was really hard to get through because of how emotional a toll it can take on you. I recommend The Idea of You to anyone who enjoys drama or women's contemporary fiction.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Dinner by Herman Koch (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.

About the book-

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve Coogan, Rebecca Hall, and Chloƫ Sevigny

"A European
Gone Girl." —The Wall Street Journal
An internationally bestselling phenomenon, the darkly suspenseful, highly controversial tale of two families struggling to make the hardest decision of their lives—all over the course of one meal.

It's a summer's evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.

Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

Skewering everything from parenting values to pretentious menus to political convictions, this novel reveals the dark side of genteel society and asks what each of us would do in the face of unimaginable tragedy.

My thoughts-

If  I find a book that is soon to be a movie, something about that book compels me to read it. The Dinner is a novel by Dutch author Herman Koch, it has been translated into several languages and it a best seller. I was curious when I read the plot what the two fifteen year old kids did that their parents would be discussing. Sadly you don't get anywhere near that plot line until half way in the book. I thought that the set up of the book into the different parts of a dinner was interesting, but the book kind of went all over the place. For people who don't like narrators who jump from one time period to another the whole novel this might be confusing. I don't mind it usually and still had trouble keeping up. The set up to the story was slow and I felt like the first half of the book was all about what they were eating rather than why they were at dinner, but once we got to the second half things picked up and the plot got juicy. I had no trouble finishing up the book at that point. If you like books like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, where there are pretty much zero likeable characters, but the story telling is suspenseful, you will love The Dinner.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

How to Draw Cool Stuff by Catherine V. Holmes (Book 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. 

About the book-

How to Draw Cool Stuff: Holidays, Seasons and Events is a step-by-step drawing guide that illustrates popular celebrations, holidays and events for your drawing pleasure. From the Chinese New Year to April Fools' Day, Father's Day to Halloween, Christmas and New Year’s Eve - this book covers over 100 fun days, holidays, seasons and events, and offers simple lessons that will teach you how to draw like a pro and get you in the spirit of whichever season it may be! The third book in the How To Draw Cool Stuff series, this exciting new title will teach you how to create simple illustrations using basic shapes and a drawing technique that simplifies the process of drawing, all while helping you construct height, width and depth in your work. It will guide you through the creative thought process and provide plenty of ideas to get you started. The lessons in this book will also teach you how to think like an artist and remind you that you are only limited by your imagination!

My thoughts-

My daughter recently decided to take up painting so I have been painting with her. The problem is I have no artistic talent whatsoever, so I need a picture to look at or mimic or trace and I thought what better way to do that than to practice by sketching. I saw How to Draw Cool Stuff and knew I needed to check it out. I like that there are step by step instructions and it shows you how to start off simple and then has several more steps to get to the finished product. Some of the drawings in the book are away over my head, but there are a couple of simple ones that I plan on giving a try! I think this book is great for beginners like more and even for a more seasoned sketcher who would like some new ideas.

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.



Monday, February 13, 2017

The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz (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 new and revised edition of the IACP award-winning cookbook brings the
healing power of delicious, nutritious foods to those whose hearts and bodies
crave a revitalizing meal, through 150 new and updated recipes.


Featuring science-based, nutrient-rich recipes that are easy to prepare and designed to give
patients a much-needed boost by stimulating appetite and addressing treatment
side effects including fatigue, nausea, dehydration, mouth and throat soreness,
tastebud changes, and weight loss. A step-by-step guide helps patients
nutritionally prepare for all phases of treatment, and a full nutritional analysis
accompanies each recipe. This remarkable resource teaches patients and
caregivers how to use readily available powerhouse ingredients to build a
symptom- and cancer-fighting culinary toolkit. Blending fantastic taste and
meticulous science, these recipes for soups, vegetable dishes, proteins, and sweet
and savory snacks are rich in the nutrients, minerals, and phytochemicals that help
patients thrive during treatment. 



My thoughts-

In the last 3 years I have had my dad, my great aunt, my cousin, my mother in law, and an old friend all diagnosed with various types of cancer. The title of this book caught my eye because I think it is important to use food as pre-preemptive medicine so I thought it couldn't hurt to check out these recipes. The book is geared towards people who are in treatment for cancer, but I think it is a great read for anyone. We are all affected by cancer in some way at some time. The recipes in the book actually all sound pretty tasty which is always helpful when you are trying to eat healthy. There is also information in the book on how one might feel during radiation or chemo and foods or broths/soups that might help them get through the rougher times when food sounds like the worst thing in the world. I recommend this book to anyone really, but it will especially useful for patients going through treatment or caregivers. 





Sunday, February 12, 2017

Packed by Becky Alexander and Michelle Lake

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

About the book- 

The workday packed lunch - so often a repetitive and disappointing affair - is easier than you think to get right; it just requires a little forward planning. Throw out the soggy sandwiches and fill your Thermos or lunch box with nutrient-packed goodies that are simple to prepare, delicious - and full of things that are good for you. Contemporary and seasonal recipes are supported by sound nutrition to bring you this hip and easy guide on lunch on the go. While food writer Becky Alexander shows you how to knock up simple and satisfying bites - from vibrant Skip to the Beet Soup to satisfying Good Mood Cookies - nutritionist Michelle Lake will explain how that lunch is doing you good. Chapters include: 

   • Get Up and Go for those breakfasts on the run 
   • Raw Goodness salads 
   • Filling Flasks of satisfying hot food 
   • Fork-free Fare: sandwiches, dips and other cutlery-free eats 
   • Snacks and Bites for the inbetween times and treats 
By strategic shopping, making things ahead, and using your fridge and freezer craftily, creating exciting and healthy lunches every day becomes almost effortless. Health benefits of particular foods are featured throughout, so you know your blood sugar will be balanced, the nutrition will be packed in and your brain will be kept in top gear. Because work is harder when you're not fully fuelled!


My thoughts-

I am always looking for new ideas for lunch for my kids because I don't want them eating sandwiches every day and I get tired of sending them the same old things. I also always want to find something that I can send with my husband to his job in the ER where he works overnight. Packed is a great book full of interesting meals, that are healthy and give you many whole food options for a nutritious and tasty lunch. I like how varied the different lunches are.It's nice to get out of the soup/sandwich/salad/typical lunch foods rut. Some of the recipes I found of particular interest are the lemony lamb koftas with mint and yogurt dip, beef brisket chili, and step by step guide to rolling sushi. If you are a sandwich fan there is always a section devoted to the lunch staple, that takes sandwiches to a new level and is not your every day turkey and cheese with mayo. I think packed is a great book. These meals will probably appeal more to adults looking to save money on their lunches at work, but many of these meals are also pretty kid friendly. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley (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-

From the author of Before I Go comes an unconventional but beautiful love story perfect for fans of the emotional novels of Jodi Picoult and Jojo Moyes.

One time a boy kissed me and I almost died... 

And so begins the story of Jubilee Jenkins, a young woman with a rare and debilitating medical condition: she’s allergic to other humans. After a humiliating near-death experience in high school, Jubilee has become a recluse, living the past nine years in the confines of the small town New Jersey house her unaffectionate mother left to her when she ran off with a Long Island businessman. But now, her mother is dead, and without her financial support, Jubilee is forced to leave home and face the world—and the people in it—that she’s been hiding from.

One of those people is Eric Keegan, a man who just moved into town for work. With a daughter from his failed marriage who is no longer speaking to him, and a brilliant, if psychologically troubled, adopted son, Eric’s struggling to figure out how his life got so off-course, and how to be the dad—and man—he wants so desperately to be. Then, one day, he meets a mysterious woman named Jubilee, with a unique condition...

An evocative, poignant, and heartrending exploration of the power and possibilities of the human heart.


My thoughts-

I have been waiting for Colleen Oakley to write a new book, so I was excited when I came across Close Enough to Touch. I had mixed feelings about her first book Before I Go, but I thought it was well written so I wanted to give her a second chance. Close Enough to Touch had me interested from the first page. While not a real condition, imagining someone with an allergy to other human dna cells was intriguing. How would she live without the touch of another? Not surprisingly Jubilee feels very alone and angry at the beginning of the story. I was thrilled when she worked up the courage (really out of necessity) to go out and get a job. We get to see how she interacts with other people after not seeing or interacting with a single soul for 9 years, besides occasional phone calls. Oakley's writing reminds me a lot of some of my favorite author's of contemporary fiction: Nicholas Sparks, Jodi Picoult, Cecilia Ahern, Jojo Moyes, authors that pull at your heartstrings and are masters at creating a romantic story. Beyond Jubiliee's relationship with Eric, which is a refreshingly different take on a relationship because they can't physically touch, I love the dynamic between Jubilee and Aja, two people who have trouble communicating with others, but find solace in someone similar yet so different. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys contemporary fiction.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Pho Cookbook by Andrea Nguyen (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-
Vietnam's most beloved culinary export—pho—is now within the reach of any home cook.
 
Andrea Nguyen first tasted pho in Saigon as a child, sitting at a street stall with her parents. That experience sparked a lifelong love of the iconic noodle soup, and here she dives deep into pho's lively past, visiting its birthplace and then teaching how to successfully make it. Options range from quick weeknight cheats to 5-hour weekend feasts with broth and condiments from scratch, as well as other pho rice noodle favorites. Over fifty versatile recipes, including snacks, salads, companion dishes, and vegetarian and gluten-free options, welcome everyone to the pho table. With a thoughtful guide on ingredients and techniques, plus evocative location photography and deep historical knowledge, The Pho Cookbook enables anyone to cook this comforting classic. 


My thoughts-

My husband introduced me to pho after a long while of hesitation on my part because I don't generally like Asian food or soup, but once he finally got me into the cute little pho shop by our house a few years ago it became one of my favorite restaurants. I have thought about attempting to make own pho ata home, but I have always been intimidated and besides finding recipes here or there on pinterest, I have never really found a good recipe. The Pho Cookbook not only have a plethora of recipes, but is very detailed on how to make the perfect bowl of soup. Nguyen examines everything from how to find the freshest noodles, to all of the spices and flavorings that need to be added to make pho the pure deliciousness that so many people love. The beginning of the book with the detailed explanation of each step is super intimidating, but once you get to the recipes section it doesn't seem as out of reach. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys experimenting in their kitchen or that really loves pho!









Tuesday, February 7, 2017

My (not so) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

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 books-

Part love story, part workplace drama, this sharply observed novel is a witty critique of the false judgments we make in a social-media-obsessed world. New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella has written her most timely novel yet.
 
Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she's desperate to make her dad proud.
            
Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.
            

My thoughts-

I have a tendency to read a lot of historical fiction, but sometimes I like to jump outside my box and read something set in the present. Bonus points if there is a great love story! There was so much to love about this book. Katie is relatable. I think all of us at some point in our adulthood have come to the conclusion that we are not exactly what we thought we would be or that other people's lives are better. Sometimes that can open doors we didn't even know we wanted to step through. I enjoyed both the parts in the office with Katie and her office mates and Katie in the country with her dad and step mom and all of the parts with Demeter, who was an interesting character to get to know. 
If you are looking for a book equal parts funny and romantic, My (not so) Perfect Life is the book for you. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Ricardo Beverly Hills 43" Rolling Garment Bag Review

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a complimentary product from Viewpoints in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

I had never heard of the Ricardo Beverly Hills 43" Rolling Garment Bag until I was offered the opportunity from Viewpoints to received a sample product to review. I am travel quite a bit between trips with my family, getaways with my husbands, and girl's weekends with my best friend who lives in a different state so it's important for me to have good luggage. I usually use just standard luggage for all of my clothing and other travel needs, but is is always frustrating that my clothes get wrinkled and that I have to mix them in with other things like bathroom products. I like that the Ricardo Beverly Hills bag is wider and meant for clothing and that the front zipped area is bigger and perfect for my flat iron and smaller items, still allowing me to only have to take one bag on shorter trips. It is easier to lay clothing flat and keep them from getting wrinkled. I also like that the handle has a zipper compartment to hide in, it makes the bag look that much sleeker. I would definitely buy this bag if I saw it in a store and was in need of luggage and will recommend it to friends as well.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

I'm Going to Give You a Bear Hug by Caroline B. Cooney


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

I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug!, written by bestselling author Caroline B. Cooney, is a playful and comforting bedtime book that imagines all the wonderful ways a child might give and receive a hug.
Whether it’s a big bear, gasp for air, knock over a chair hug or a wet and drippy, slimy, slippy fish hug, children will giggle their way through all the imaginative examples. Cooney’s sweet and simple rhymes encourage playful interaction between parent and child and ultimately help them wind down before they snuggle into bed and drift off to sleep.

My thoughts-


I'm Going to Give you a Bear Hug is a cute picture book perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. The concept of the book is different types of animal hugs you could give. I love the cute sing-song rhyming and flow of the book and the illustrations are darling. This is a great book for emerging readers to practice their reading and the perfect book to read to your little ones each night at bed time.

About the author-

Caroline B. Cooney was born in New York, grew up in Connecticut, and now lives in South Carolina. Caroline is the author of 90 Young Adult novels in many genres, and her books have sold over fifteen million copies. I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug is her first picture book. It’s based on a verse she wrote for her own children, Louisa, Sayre and Harold, who are grown now. 

About the Illustrator-

Tim Warnes has been illustrating children's books for twenty years. He lives in Dorset, England, with his wife, children's illustrator Jane Chapman, and their two sons. When he's not drawing little critters, Tim loves to write, watch birds and play his banjo. 


You can purchase the book on Zondervan for $16.99
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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Max Gives Thanks to God (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-

Todd and Jackie Courtney, both experienced teachers and parents to three children, decided to write books to help along new parents teach lessons to their own children. max Gives Thanks to God is one book in a new series of board books designed for toddlers.

My thoughts-

Max and his other friends in "Max Gives Thanks to God are cute and colorful. Toddlers will love looking at the beautiful pictures in this board book and engaging with it's message. I love that the words are in poetry form. Rhyming words are always a great way to make the story stick in your children's minds. I love the vibrant pictures and the lesson to always give thanks to God any time you think about it for all of the blessings in your life. This is a great book for the little ones in your life. It is never too early to learn lessons in giving thanks!

toddandjackie.como

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Eat Fat, Get Thin Cookbook by Mark Hyman (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-

The companion cookbook to Dr. Hyman's revolutionary Eat Fat, Get Thin, with more than 175 delicious, nutritious, heart- and waist-friendly recipes.
Dr. Hyman's Eat Fat, Get Thin radically changed the way we view dietary fat, and proved that the key to losing weight and keeping it off is to eat ample amounts of good fats. Now, Dr. Hyman shares more than 175 mouthwatering recipes to help you incorporate these good fats into your diet and continue on your path to wellness. With easy-to-prepare recipes for every meal--featuring nuts, coconut oil, avocados, and lots of other superfoods you thought were "off limits"--you can achieve fast and sustained weight loss. Your health is a life-long journey, and THE EAT FAT, GET THIN COOKBOOK helps make that journey both do-able and delicious.

My thoughts-

When I saw this book was written by Mark Hyman, I was interested in it immediately. Fat has got a lot of unfounded bad press over the last decade or so. I think a lot of people just don't understand good fat vs. bad fat and that your body NEEDS fat to be it's ultimate best. This is a companion cookbook that goes with Hyman's Eat Fat, Get Thin book, but without having read that book I think you will still get the overall point of it summarized here at the beginning of the cookbook. The book has a detailed chart about what fats you should eat which I think anyone who reads the book will find extremely helpful. There is also some great information on what kind of vitamins you might consider taking to take your health to the next level. I like that there are so many recipes in the book that there will be at least a few things everyone would enjoy. It gives many options for great recipes and I think that is the main goal of a good cookbook, that there are so many great things in the book, no one will feel like it isn't for them. My favorite section is the breakfast section because there are tons of savory options and too often there is a focus on sweetness for our first meal of the day. I could easily eat any of the things from the breakfast section for any meal. I think anyone who wants to eat well and cares about their health will enjoy The Eat Fat, Get Thin Cookbook so I recommend this book to anyone wanting to eat well. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Wizard's Dog by Eric Kahn Gale

*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-

For fans of The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom comes an offbeat, comedic spin on the Excalibur legend told from the point of view of a talking dog who wants to be a magician! 
 
Meet Nosewise. He’s spunky. He’s curious. And he’s a dog who can’t understand why his pack mates Merlin and Morgana spend all day practicing magic tricks. If it’s a trick they want, he’s the dog to ask! He can already Sit!, Stay!, and Roll Over!
 
But there’s no way Nosewise is Staying when his master and best friend, Merlin, is kidnapped. There’s nothing Nosewise won’t do to get Merlin back, even if it means facing the strange Fae people and their magic-eating worms, or tangling with the mysterious Sword in the Stone. But it may take more than sniffing out a spell to do it!
 
Nosewise’s hilarious escapades and steadfast loyalty get him and his companions through King Arthur’s Dark Ages.

My thoughts-

I ran across this title as part of a trivia night table decor our local Friends of the Library puts on each year. This year, my club and I volunteered to decorate 10 book themed tables and one of those books was The Wizard's Dog. I hadn't heard of it prior and thought it sounded cute and thought why not check and see if it's on Netgalley and luckily it was! I thought it might be a good book from my 9 year old daughter to dive into, but I wanted to read it first to see if it was appropriate for her reading level. The book is perfect for her age group, a great middle grade fantasy book about a dog, who happens to be the Wizard Merlin's dog. Merlin's apprentice discovers a way for Nosewise to talk and that causes lots of interesting situations! I enjoyed that the book is from Nosewise's point of view and it adds some extra comedy to the narrative. There are definitely some scenes that will be giggle inducing to young children (it's about a dog, so there are lots of references to poop! haha), but it is also full of action and drama. The Wizard's Dog is a great pick for anyone who enjoys middle grade fantasy. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Juliet's Answer by Glenn Dixon (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.

I have had this book sitting on the back-burner for a little bit. I am not sure what was holding me back from reading it, other than having an overabundance of things to read lately, but Juliet's Answer is easily one of the best books I've read in some time. The book is about Glenn Dixon's time in Verona answering some of the letters that come in from all over the world addressed to Juliet, yes that Juliet. Dixon was also a high school English teacher and had a love dilemma of his own, so this book had a few stories within the main story. I especially enjoyed the stories the people Glenn Dixon in Verona told him about what they believe to be the true origins of the story of Romeo and Juliet (could these characters could have been based on real people?). If you enjoy travel or history or just enjoy a great memoir, you'll love Juliet's Answer.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Lose Your Belly Diet by Travis Stork, M.D. (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.

About the book-

We want to be healthy. We want to be lean. And we want to lose that annoying fat around our bellies!
We can achieve ALL of these goals with The Lose Your Belly Diet. Based on exciting new research about the dramatic benefits of vibrant gut health and a diverse gut microbiome, this plan nurtures your gut while helping you burn off excess weight and harmful belly fat.
This plan is built around a very clear, research-based concept: Eating food that nourishes and protects the microbes in your gut paves the way for weight loss, a slimmer middle, and better overall health.
It’s not just about weight loss. Having great gut health is linked to good health throughout your body. Scientists in this rapidly growing field are finding connections between gut microbes and the immune system, weight loss, gastrointestinal health, , allergies, asthma, and even cancer. With every study that’s published, scientists become more convinced that having a healthy gut leads to having a healthy body.
My thoughts-
Something I love about doctor Travis Stork is that he is great at breaking down medical jargon for the layman. His conversational tone make his books so easy to read and that is helpful when you are reading about your health and trying to do better for yourself. I like that in The Lose Your Belly Diet, Dr. Stork goes into detail about gut health and gut microbiome, sharing some insight into why so many people are obese, as well as what gut microbiomes have to do with overall health. It was an exciting book that I read in one setting. Best of all, the recipes shared at the end all sound delicious. I never like when books like this use the word  "diet" in the title, but if that gets some people to read this book than I will forgive it. This is not a "diet" as much as a healthier way of eating and learning more about your body so you can treat it better, I recommend this book to absolutely anyone who wants to take better care of their health, whether that is to lose weight, to tone up, or to just begin (or continue) on a better path to eating well.