Monday, November 23, 2015

Cookbook review: Happy Cooking: Giada De Laurentiis

Happy Cooking: Giada's Recipes and Tips for Making Every Meal Count...Without Stressing You Out

Happy Cooking: Giada's Recipes and Tips for Making Every Meal Count...Without Stressing You Out

  As an avid cook, you can imagine my excitement every time I discover a newly-published cookbook! This is actually my first from well-known cook and cookbook author Giada De Laurentiis! Having heard much about her personality and recipes, I was greatly looking forward to reading this book. 
   Happy Cooking is all that you expect: it is full of delicious recipes, fabulous photos and, best of makes you feel relaxed and happy about cooking! I know I certainly need a stress-relieving cookbook. Although I do love cooking, it as well as everything else in life tends to stress me out at times. Giada puts the happy back into cooking with this pleasant book! 
    Fans of Giada will be delighted with her presence in this cookbook; there are many pictures of her and her quotes accompany most of her recipes. The photographs of the foods themselves are not always as amazing as other recently published cookbooks I have read and reviewed, but they are still bright and enjoyable. Just not as coffee-table worthy as other cookbooks I own. 
   Personally, I won't be cooking a ton of recipes from this book because of the large amount of (no surprise) pasta meals. I don't eat a lot of pasta yet I was aware of the fact that this is an Italian-based cookbook when I ordered it so I am not complaining! On a good note, this book also has a ton of vegetable and salad recipes and the dessert section is surprisingly small! Overall, I assure you that this book is full of delicious recipes. What especially struck me is that the recipes in this cookbook are not only basic and easy enough for most amateur cooks to master, they will taste complex enough to delight the detailed chef! This cookbook could just become your new all-round favorite!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.
More about the book...
    Giada De Laurentiis, one of the most recognizable faces on the Food Network lineup, invites readers to get to know her as never before. The celebrity chef is back with nearly 200 new recipes and helpful advice on everything from hosting a potluck or open house to what to pack along for lunch every day. Drawing on the time-saving tips and healthy eating strategies that keep her functioning at the highest possible level in her roles as working mom, restaurateur, and tv personality, she has assembled a year-round roadmap to vibrant good health and delicious eating. Readers will be inspired to try new ingredients, new wellness practices, and create a wholesome balance between peak nutrition - and the occasional decadent indulgence. Featuring her New Year's cleanse, homemade Christmas gifts, and ideas for every holiday, special occasion, and casual weekend in between, this is Giada’s 365-approach to cooking up a happy life.

REVIEW: KJV Foundation Study Bible 2015 Thomas Nelson publishers


The perfect foundation for Bible study and the Christian life. Build your life on it!The Foundation Study Bible is a thorough, portable, and affordable Bible for students of God's Word at any level. It has the most important helps for basic study, whether you're just beginning or brushing up on essentials.
The KJV foundation study Bible is a large and impressive publication of the Bible. With its shiny dust jacket and hardcover binding, this version is sure to delight all. The text stays true to the traditional authorized version (KJV) but includes study notes at the bottom of every page. You are sure to glean from reading this Bible published by Thomas Nelson publishers. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.



This is an unusual children’s book set in the land of Uz. The characters in the story are surprising: a behemoth, a young Job and the people of Uz. Both Spanish-speaking people as well as English-speaking folks who wish to learn Spanish will appreciate that this book is a bilingual story, split into parts, the first in English followed by Spanish. The story is about the people of Uz who are afraid of the behemoth dinosaur because he’s different, and they are scared he will take all their food and water when he lives there as well. As the story progresses, the people learn that sharing, even with such a large, unusual creature, isn’t as bad as it seems as long as everyone shares equally, including the behemoth.
Personally, I don't see the necessity of this book featuring the biblical character Job. For me, that plays with history a bit too much. Not that Job was a man holier than others, but sometimes children's picture books can play down characters in the Bible. This story basically takes a setting, a creature and a character from a portion of the Bible and invents an entirely different story to teach a lesson to children. I am not entirely opposed to this book but neither am I fan of it. 
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

More about the book:
Carvings and fossils of dinosaurs with humans have been seen in various caves around the world. These carvings and fossils have been tested to provide evidence that proves these fossils are not as old as we've been told.

A salted lake was formed in MINUTES in Japan's earthquake in 2011. If it had occurred during the time when the motion picture was not available, science would have said the lake took millions of years to form.

The story and dialogue of this book takes place between people and the behemoth. The behemoth walks to the well to get water and sees his friend Job. Job becomes excited to see him and hugs him. Many villagers want the behemoth out of the village. But at the end, everything changes.

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Cup of Dust: a Novel of the Dust Bowl by Susie Finkbeiner

A Cup of Dust: a Novel of the Dust Bowl

A Cup of Dust: a Novel of the Dust Bowl


   A gripping story; believable and heart-wrending, A Cup of Dust is set in Oklahoma, 1935. The authro, Susie Finkbeiner does an extraordinary job of melding fiction with history- the result, a realistic account of a young girl growing up in the difficult time of the dust bowl.  This is such an interesting book for those -like me-who have never studied this difficult time period of the American west. The author brings it vividly to life; as I read this book I felt the pain and burden of the living in such a dying region. Simultaneously, as if that era wasn't hard enough, the author weaves a different tale concerning the young girl Pearl. Your interest will be captured early on in the book as confusing and mysterious characters start coming on the scene and disrupting Pearl Spence's relatively happy life with her loving family. Only reading this book will reveal the truth behind this sweet young girl's existence....From start to finish, author Susie Finkbeiner presents a work which will touch your heart. I especially admire how the themes of love and loyalty were played out- excellent job!

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion- thank you!

Where you come from isn’t who you are
Ten-year-old Pearl Spence is a daydreamer, playing make-believe to escape life in Oklahoma’s Dust Bowl in 1935. The Spences have their share of misfortune, but as the sheriff’s family, they’ve got more than most in this dry, desolate place. They’re who the town turns to when there’s a crisis or a need—and during these desperate times, there are plenty of both, even if half the town stands empty as people have packed up and moved on.
Pearl is proud of her loving, strong family, though she often wearies of tracking down her mentally impaired older sister or wrestling with her grandmother’s unshakable belief in a God who Pearl just isn’t sure she likes.
Then a mysterious man bent on revenge tramps into her town of Red River. Eddie is dangerous and he seems fixated on Pearl. When he reveals why he’s really there and shares a shocking secret involving the whole town, dust won’t be the only thing darkening Pearl’s world.
While the tone is suspenseful and often poignant, the subtle humor of Pearl’s voice keeps A Cup of Dust from becoming heavyhanded. Finkbeiner deftly paints a story of a family unit coming together despite fractures of distress threatening to pull them apart

Book review: Blessed, Blessed ... Blessed by Missy Robertson

Blessed, Blessed ... Blessed: The Untold Story of Our Family's Fight to Love Hard, Stay Strong, and Keep the Faith When Life Can't Be Fixed

Blessed, Blessed ... Blessed: The Untold Story of Our Family's Fight to Love Hard, Stay Strong, and Keep the Faith When Life Can't Be Fixed

   I love how I found the Robertson family. Surprisingly, it was not through watching Duck Dynasty (although I have watched several episodes randomly since), but through Sadie Robertson. After discovering her and all that she stands for, I read both books The Duck Commander Family and The Women of Duck Commander followed by A New Season by Al and Lisa Robertson. By the time I had read those books, I was completely amazed by what God had done in this family and fascinated by their faith and strength. It goes without saying that by the time Blessed, Blessed...Blessed was released for publication and consequently reviewing by such fortunate bloggers as I, I was so excited to get my hands on a copy of it! I had already been touched by Missy's gentleness paired with her obvious strength; this book brings both character aspects to light in a whole new way. And what I absolutely love about the book is that Missy doesn't want applause or admiration- she wants Jesus to get all the glory. She is open and candid and humble and I love her the more for it. Moreover, I praise God more for what He does in people's lives! Perhaps you have heard of Missy and Jase's story and that of their daughter Mia....but you will have no idea of the struggles behind their harmonious and close family life until you read their story in Blessed, Blessed....Blessed. After reading this book I was overwhelmed by not only God's goodness in general, but His graciousness to me! I truly am blessed as well, and hope you come away from this book with the same conviction.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. Thank you!

Missy Robertson knew that marrying duck-hunting family man Jase Robertson would be an adventure . . . and she was up to the challenge. Their life together was good (even after Jase grew the beard). They had two children, worked hard to help build the thriving Duck Commander business, and loved and served God.

But after a difficult and risky pregnancy, their daughter, Mia, was born with a cleft palate―a serious condition requiring multiple cranial and facial surgeries. As their baby struggled to breathe, and Missy and Jase faced a life that suddenly looked very different than the one they’d planned, they found themselves staring down one of life’s biggest questions: Where is God in all this pain?

This is the Robertsons’ story. It’s for anyone scared and overwhelmed by a problem they can’t fix; anyone lost and searching for a way through. You’ll meet the young girl Mia who captured A&E’s Duck Dynasty viewers’ hearts, and learn how Missy and Jase have raised her and their sons to be faithful, confident, and secure in who they are. You’ll be inspired by how the Robertson family stuck by each other through the hardest times. And you’ll discover that God’s blessings are bigger than you ever dreamed―and there when you need them the most.

Olympia Provisions: Cured Meats and Tales from an American Charcuterie by Elias Cairo

Olympia Provisions: Cured Meats and Tales from an American Charcuterie
Olympia Provisions: Cured Meats and Tales from an American Charcuterie 

   Large and impressive, this slate-toned hardcover cookbook is sure to delight a variety of chefs and adventurous spirits. With the unique design on the cover and the rustic photographs inside, this book is not only great for women but men as well. It would make a perfect Christmas gift for someone this holiday! The book seems to be in depth and detailed, covering a variety of meats from sausage to salami and smoked delicacies and even fermented and dry-cured creations to more comprehensible roast meets and  sides. I was surprised by the amount and wide selection of recipes contained within the large pages of this book! Even included are sides such as english muffins, gravy, salads, and sauces! There is no way any meat lover will be disappointed by this book! 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. Thanks!

A rigorous exploration of what American charcuterie is today from Portland’s top-notch meat company, featuring in-depth techniques for crafting cured meats, recipes from the company’s two restaurants, and essays revealing the history and personalities behind the brand.

Portland’s Olympia Provisions began as Oregon’s first USDA-certified salumeria, but it has grown into a mini-empire, with two bustling restaurants and charcuterie shipping out daily to all fifty states. In his debut cookbook, salumist and co-owner Elias Cairo dives deep into his distinctly American charcuterie, offering step-by-step recipes for confits, pâtés, sausages, salami, and more. But that is only the beginning. Writer Meredith Erickson takes you beyond cured meat, exploring how Cairo’s proud Greek-American upbringing, Swiss cooking adventures, and intense love affair with the outdoors have all contributed to Olympia Provisions’ singular—and delicious—point of view. With recipes from the restaurants, as well as extensive wine notes and nineteen frankfurter variations, Olympia Provisions redefines what American charcuterie can be.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest: A Boy Named Mu, an African Journey, and You by J. A. Myhre

A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest
A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest:
A Boy Named Mu, an African Journey, and You by J. A. Myhre
   This delightful and unique chapter book for children is set in a fictional region of Africa. Not only is it fantastical and imaginative, it is also informative as the author knows African culture and daily life firsthand and manages to weaves those truths into this book from the first chapter to the last! Children of all ages will be excited and mesmerized by this fascinating tale about  a ten-year old African boy named Mu. The story is easy to get into since it begins immediately with a twist....on his way to get the daily water supply (a job usually given to girls but forced upon poor Mu by his inconsiderate and unloving great uncle), the boy meets a chameleon, and not only a regular chameleon but a talking one! Since this is in the first chapter, the reader can't help but want to continue this unusual tale! I was pleased with the writing quality of this book. Unlike most contemporary Christian authors, J.A Myhre writes with quality and strength. The vocabulary within this book is excellent which will help expand the minds of your children. The story itself will also invigorate their imagination and spark interesting questions and discussion. 
 I was given this book by Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest opinion. Thanks!
More about the book....
Mu, a ten-year-old orphan, has lived his entire life in the heart of Africa. For as long as he can remember he has served in the household of a great-uncle where he is unloved and ignored. In his drudgery-filled life, Mu has little hope of happiness, and little hope that anything will ever change.
But one day, everything does change. On his way to draw water one morning, Mu is astonished when a chameleon greets him by name and announces that they will embark on a quest together. And what a quest it turns out to be! Mu faces danger and finds unexpected allies as they journey through a fascinating and ever-changing landscape.
A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest blends magical realism with a compelling story. The exciting story line combines an orphan’s journey to find a home with the plight of child soldiers and the dangers of the Ebola virus and, along the way, highlights universal themes of integrity, loyalty, faith, and love. Written by long-time medical missionary J. A. Myrhe, the artful story is laced with subtle gospel themes and handles cross-cultural issues with grace and sensitivity. Kids will encounter good and evil and learn the truth about hope, happiness, and what it means to be human in this page-turning first book in a new series.
—A page-turning children’s action and adventure story set in a fictional African land
—Blends magical realism and compelling storytelling with gospel themes to draw kids gently into the truth
—Deals with real-life but (seemingly) faraway themes like the plight of orphans, the duties of child soldiers, and the reality of the Ebola virus
—Written by a long-time medical missionary to Africa who handles cross-cultural issues with grace, sensitivity, and love