Saturday, June 24, 2017

Anything but Simple by Lucinda J. Miller (Book Review)

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

About the book-

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

My thoughts-

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

To The New Owners by Madeleine Blais (Book Review)

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

About the book-

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

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

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

My thoughts-

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


Friday, June 9, 2017

Eat Fat Get Fit by Kusha Karvandi (Book Review)

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

About the book-

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

My thoughts-

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

ADHD and Me by Chelsea Radojcic (Children's Book Review)

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

About the book-

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

My thoughts-

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

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand (Book Review)

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

About the book-

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

My thoughts-

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











Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The China Study Family Cookbook

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

About the book-

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

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


My thoughts-

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










Amish Guys Don't Call by Debby Dodds (Book Review)

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

About the book-

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

My thoughts-

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


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner (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-

Where are you guys? Text me back. That's the last message Carver Briggs will ever send his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. He never thought that it would lead to their death.

Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, a powerful judge is pressuring the district attorney to open up a criminal investigation.

Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a “goodbye day” together to share their memories and say a proper farewell.

Soon the other families are asking for their own goodbye day with Carver—but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these goodbye days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?

My thoughts-

Goodbye Days is the heartbreaking account of the aftermath of the deaths of a car full of teenage boys in a car accident that could have probably been prevented. Carver Briggs was the one who sent the text message and is dealing with the emotional trauma of feeling responsible for not just one of his friends, but all e of his best friends. He's also dealing with ostracism at school, and feeling blame from family members of his friends. It's a sad book, but one of the best ones I have read in a long time. I could really imagine a teenager feeling this way in a situation like this. The best part of the book is Carver's relationship with his friends grandmother, who gives him the idea for doing "goodbye days" and helps him kind of get through this situation as best he can. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA books or drama.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Party by Robyn Harding (Book Review)

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

About the book-

In this stunning and provocative domestic drama about a sweet sixteen birthday party that goes horribly awry, a wealthy family in San Francisco finds their picture-perfect life unraveling, their darkest secrets revealed, and their friends turned to enemies.

One invitation. A lifetime of regrets.

Sweet sixteen. It’s an exciting coming of age, a milestone, and a rite of passage. Jeff and Kim Sanders plan on throwing a party for their daughter, Hannah—a sweet girl with good grades and nice friends. Rather than an extravagant, indulgent affair, they invite four girls over for pizza, cake, movies, and a sleepover. What could possibly go wrong?

But things do go wrong, horrifically so. After a tragic accident occurs, Jeff and Kim’s flawless life in a wealthy San Francisco suburb suddenly begins to come apart. In the ugly aftermath, friends become enemies, dark secrets are revealed in the Sanders’ marriage, and the truth about their perfect daughter, Hannah, is exposed.

My thoughts-

The Party is the type of book that grips you from the beginning and won't release you from it's clutches until you reach the conclusion. It is similar to novels like The Dinner and Big Little Lies, stories that break apart the façade of the perfect family and show the flaws of these characters as their worlds unravel. I have a hard time loving books where none of the characters are relatable, where none of the characters are likeable. I enjoyed the story and the suspense was spot on, but I can't love it because I don't love any of the characters. I did, however, really like it. The Party is one of those novels that would make a fantastic movie and I hope that one day it may be! I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys suspense novels.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Ready or Not! by Michelle Tam + Henry Fong (Cookbook Review)

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

About the book-

Ready or Not, it's a new cookbook from the James Beard award-nominees and New York Times best-selling creators of Nom Nom Paleo, the wildly popular blog, app, and best-selling cookbook!You know how it is: some days, you're fired up and ready to cook; other days, you dread the thought of making dinner. More often than not, you find yourself floating somewhere between inspiration and desperation. What's a crazy busy (but kind of lazy) home cook to do?

The answer: pick up this book. Ready or Not makes healthy Paleo home cooking a breeze, no matter if there's time to prepare or just minutes to spare. Whether you're a fastidious planner or a last-minute improviser, you'll find plenty of deliciously nourishing options, from make-ahead feasts to lightning-fast leftover makeovers. Presented in Nom Nom Paleo's deliriously fun comic book style, Ready or Not makes Paleo cooking easy, no matter how much time you have. In fact, this cookbook is organized into color-coded sections to match your readiness level:
GET SET! First, stock your kitchen with essential building blocks--from store-bought necessities to D.I.Y. ingredients that'll set you up for anytime cooking.READY! Got time to cook? Turn to these recipes for make-ahead meals and spectacular dishes like Pressure Cooker Bo Ssäm and Strawberry Almond Semifreddo!KINDA READY! Learn how to transform pantry staples and leftovers into impromptu meals that'll satisfy the most discriminating palates.NOT READY! Emergency meals can be delicious, too. In this section, you'll find super-fast recipes like savory stir-fries and sheet pan suppers.
Along with colorfully written and gorgeously photographed step-by-step recipes presented in a cheeky cartoon format, Ready or Not features kitchen hacks, Paleo ingredient guides, meal plans, shopping lists and more!

My thoughts-

My family is not 100% Paleo, but we are gluten free and want to have more of a Paleo leaning so I am always looking for all of the recipes I can possibly find. I have the original Nom Nom Paleo cookbook and I will admit that one is not my favorite as far as the appeal of the recipes, but I loved the set up of the book in the comic style and there are enough good recipes in there that it caught my attention when I saw this new Nom Nom book. I am so glad that I did. Ready or Not is full of fantastic recipes. I do not think there are many any here I wouldn't try. I love that there is a recipe for gluten free tortillas, a recipe I know I will utilize time and again. Another thing I really liked was that there are several pressure cooker recipes included and since I recently started using an InstantPot to save on time and cook more at home that is a huge bonus to me. I would actually love to see an entire Nom Nom Pressure Cooker Cookbook in the future! One last thing I thought was really cool was that many of the recipes presented either alternative cooking modes (slow cooker instead of pressure cooker if that's not your thing or you don't have one) or a different option to make the recipe a different flavor making the options pretty endless. I would recommend this book to anyone trying to cook more at home whether you subscribe to the Paleo lifestyle or not. There are tons of great recipes here not to missed.









Sunday, May 7, 2017

100% Real by Sam Talbot (Cookbook Review)

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

About the book-

Celebrated chef and healthy-living expert Sam Talbot shows us how to make wildly delicious, nourishing food--using healthy, wholesome ingredients.
Bursting with 100 whole-food recipes and down-to-earth advice about clean eating, this cookbook proves that eating 100% real food is an enjoyable choice you can make every day. Chef Sam Talbot's nourishing dishes are overflowing with natural flavor and free of processed ingredients, questionable additives, sweeteners, or preservatives.

Packed with vibrant personality and more than 150 photos, this cookbook is a real-world guide to un-junking what we feed ourselves and our children. Sam explains how to find seasonal ingredients and offers tips on stocking your pantry with game changing ingredients, like coconut oil and chickpea flour.

Forget fat-free, low sodium, zero trans-fat, and the like--the hottest new food claim is not needing a claim at all. Eat. Real. Food.

My thoughts-

Fresh, innovative recipes are something I am always on the hunt to find. Good whole foods recipes with fresh ingredients and no artificial ones that aren't boring or mundane can be difficult to come by. Sam Talbot's book 100% Real contains recipe after recipe of tasty delights! I think that part of the reason I find it appealing is the variety of recipes available with an ethnic flair. I love varied foods so seeing some Asian offerings was exciting. Of particular interest because I have 3 kids and we are on a gluten free diet, is the recipe for gluten free mac n cheese. I absolutely can't wait to try it. It is different than any other gluten free macaroni I have ever made and sounds delicious. I recommend this book to anyone looking to add more variety to their diet or who are looking to make a switch to more whole foods.


Haven of Swans by Colleen Coble (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-

A beautiful woman stands by the side of the road, barefoot and bleeding, a child in her arms. Someone just tried to kill her, but she wouldn't recognize him if she saw his face. She doesn't even remember her own name.
A suburban cop surveys a kitchen in disarray—a woman and child missing, a chilling note. This crime scene is unlike any he has ever seen.
The man who calls himself Gideon waits and plans. He sees himself as a destroyer of evil, one who rids the world of abominations. He has already killed five. He will kill again.
And somewhere in the wilderness, in a secret geocache near where the wild swans gather, lies the unspeakable clue that links them all together.
Michigan's rugged and beautiful Upper Peninsula is the setting for this absorbing tale of love and loss, beauty and terror, grievous sins and second chances. A deftly woven thriller from the bestselling author of the Rock Harbor novels.
Previously published as Abomination.

My thoughts-

It's been a while since I got to read a book by Colleen Coble so when I saw this one, I grabbed it! I always enjoy her work. I didn't realize it was several books into a series, but it stood alone on it's own absolutely fine. The book kept my wheels turning trying to figure out what was going on, who might be the bad guy, and wondering if the main character would get her memories back. I was quite interested in these characters and the outcome of their story, so I will probably go back and read the other books in the series as well. I love that the book is edgy but not completely out of whack due to the fact that it is written in the genre of Christian suspense. That doesn't mean it isn't suspenseful or interesting. I think Mrs. Coble does a fantastic job of pushing the envelope without it getting to an uncomfortable level. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys suspense novels.










Saturday, May 6, 2017

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus (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-
\
The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
    Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
    Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
    Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
    Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
    And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

My thoughts-

When I read the premise of One of Us is Lying I thought it sounded like a book I would really enjoy. I like books with an air of mystery. Books that keep me guessing. One of Us is Lying did both. I liked that the characters were well written, no easy feat when you have several main characters. They all had their flaws, but all had redeeming qualities too. I found myself rooting that each of them had nothing to do with what happened and quickly believed that none of them did. I really enjoyed being kept on my toes until the end trying to figure out whodunit. I found the premise of this book refreshingly different and think that anyone who enjoys YA fiction or suspense novels would love this book.

Monday, May 1, 2017

PhilanthroParties! by Lulu Cerone (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-

Why just party when you can party with a purpose? Seventeen-year-old Lulu Cerone shows teens how to bring social activism into their daily lives—and have fun while doing it—with this colorful DIY party planning guide perfect for every socially conscious kid!

PhilanthroParties are “parties with a purpose.” In 2010, then ten-year-old Lulu Cerone was deeply affected by the earthquake in Haiti. She set out to raise money for Haitian relief by selling lemonade, but she upped the ante on the classic lemonade stand: she got her entire class to participate, boys against girls. Their lemonade “war” raised $4,000!

Now seventeen, Lulu is bringing her message of social activism to kids and teens around the world, showing them how to have fun while taking action, giving back, and generally having an impact on the world and the communities they live in.

My thoughts-

My daughter is just slightly younger than Lulu was when she did her lemonade stand war. My 9 year old and our 8 year old neighbor just recently finished their second annual lemonade stand to raise money for our local food pantry, so I got this book to help inspire the girls. They are always looking for ways to help their community. Lulu Cerone is a creative and compassionate girl, there are some fantastic party ideas in the book and I know my sweet daughter will definitely want to host some of her own PhilanthroParties!. The coolest thing about this way of raising money is that there is a fun event involved tied into the fundraiser and who doesn't want to have fun with their friends? I think that PhilanthroParties! is a fantastic book for kids and teens a like, but I also think adults could do good taking a page or two from this way of shinning light on a cause of your choice. I recommend this book to absolutely anyone who is looking for ideas on making a difference!

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 Chloë 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!