Tuesday, December 31, 2013

a series within a series.

Dark Lycan by Christine Feehan is the 24th book in the Dark series, and Book 1 in a Special Carpathian Trilogy within the Dark series. It’s a series within a series basically.

A little background for those who are out of the loop: This is a series about supernatural beings called Carpathians. The basic gist about this group is that all Carpathian males must find their life mates before they turn vampire or greet the dawn. Without a life mate, the males no longer see in color, feel pain or experience emotions. A life mate is the light to their dark. She is the keeper of his heart and the keeper of his soul.

Our main character is a half Carpathian, half wolf named Fenis. Being that he is “mixed” he could be killed by either race. Fenis meets Tatijana, a feisty Carpathian woman and quickly realizes that he found his life mate. However, his life being in constant danger proves to constantly test the survival of their love and their lives.

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Monday, December 30, 2013

if you’re looking to be transformed this new year...

Susan Shumsky, D.D. has divided her book, The Power of Auras into four sections. Part 1 introduces the human energy field (aura) and explains how it brings life to individuals. Part 2 helps you see, feel, and experience subtle energy through several different methods, exercises, and other tools. Part 3 helps you heal not only your own auric field, but also energy fields in your environment. Part 4 teaches methods for augmenting and enhancing your energy field, and energizing your body through meditation. If you’re looking for benefits such as energy, eliminating negativity from your life and finding peace, this is the eclectic book for you.

Friday, December 27, 2013

this doesn’t end well.

Dallas Noir is a collection of short stories set in a mix of neighborhoods in and surrounding Dallas, Texas. The “noir” part of the title refers to the literary genre that usually includes a protagonist who does not save the day, but is a victim, a suspect, or a perpetrator. Other common characteristics include the self-destructive qualities of the protagonist. While some of the 16 selections are better than others, David Hale Smith has compiled a great collection of brand new short stories written by various authors. So if you’re looking for a tale that doesn’t end well, you’ve found a bunch.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

quirky characters.

The Cleaner of Chartres, a novel by Salley Vickers was one of those stories that just absorbs the reader. Agnes Morel is a loveable young woman who arrives from nowhere, belonging to no one, and makes her living cleaning the cathedral of Chartres. The heart of this novel is not the story of Agnes cleaning this extraordinary cathedral in this small French town, although she does it well, and helps many people along the way. The heart of the novel is the painful story of her past.

Alternating between present-day, The Cleaner of Chartres is filled with quirky characters and shares the message that although it may be difficult, it IS possible to separate who you were in the past from who you want to be in the future.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Merry Christmas to all. I got the latest Stephanie Plum novel AND Elizabeth Gilbert's newest fiction, so merry merry Christmas to me! Yay yay. Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

what a great premise.

Ghost Gone Wild is the fourth installment of the Bailey Ruth Ghost series by Carolyn Hart. Bailey Ruth is a ghost that is allowed to return to earth as an emissary from Heaven’s Department of Good Intentions. Her latest mission seems to be off the grid, and right from the start she suspects that something is different, as the Rescue Express seems uncertain about her destination. Luckily arrives in her old town just in time to rescue wealthy Nick Magruder from being shot. After she saves the Nick, Bailey finds out she is stuck on earth because it was not a true mission from the Department of Good Intentions. Using her sleuthing skills and sweet talk, Bailey goes undercover in different disguises to find out who would have the motive to harm Nick, and why this victim is now a suspect for murder.

Monday, December 23, 2013

because grief hits hard this time of year.

Not to be a downer during the holiday season, but we do need to remember that there are a lot of people out there dealing with the loss of loved ones, and whether it’s been a week, a year or ten, that grief is especially hard to handle this time of year. Christina Rasmussen’s Second Firsts: Live, Laugh, and Love Again is the perfect resource for those of you who are experiencing the pain of loss. Rasmussen's five stages of "Life Re-entry" are: Get Real, Plug In, Shift, Discover, and Re-enter Life. She virtually holds your hand and walks with you through these different stages, leading the way for you, helping you regain your life. This author is not only trained on the topic, but she experienced her own personal loss when her husband died of cancer in her early thirties. So if you’re hurting, if your days have been long and dismal, consider this book fate stepping.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Vanished: The Sixty Year Search for the Missing Men of WWII is an excellent account of Dr. Pat Scannon’s search for the lost soldiers of the Pacific Theater. This plane and crew was pronounced MIA during the World War II battle in the Pacific, and never heard from again. Although Scannon first got involved purely due to obsession with finding answers, it soon became about providing closure for the family members.

Author Wil S. Hylton has expertly combined the stories of the missing men, their families and friends left behind, the history of the time period, AND the modern day search to find what vanished so long ago. Impeccable research, and putting together the pieces of the lives that were lost, I’ve never read anything like it.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

beaders of the world, unite!

What am I looking for in a good craft book? Oh, I’m glad you asked. Well, I look for easy to understand directions with A LOT of illustrations, as I am a visual learner. What am I looking for in a good beading book? That’s easy, anything by Diane Fitzgerald. This chick keeps coming out with the best illustrated bead books I have ever seen, and she outdoes herself with her latest, Shaped Beadwork & Beyond. This is a resource that should be gifted to every artsy-crafty-jewelry making person on your Christmas gift list as it includes 40 amazing projects that are super unique and adorable. It is heavy on the necklaces, leaving only a few bracelet and earring projects, but every project is super inspiring, so who knows? You may use these ideas and begin designing your own.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

a home run.

Every company is now a media company whether they like it or not, which is why Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy, Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk is a book for the employee, employer, social manager, or even consumer, aka EVERYONE.

Vaynerchuk covers ways to market on the major social media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and tumblr. He put the majority of his effort into the Facebook chapter, which will likely be the most beneficial to readers. Included are actual examples of what doesn't work when it comes to social media marketing, what does AND how specifically to do it. Get ready for some one-on-one mentoring!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

an appalachian debut novel.

Karen Zacharias is known for her non-fiction works. Mother of Rain is her first novel, and fans couldn’t be more pleased with it.

After her mother passes away, Maizee Hurd is sent to live with her childless aunt and uncle in Tennessee. After facing major tragedy at such a young age Maizee suffers from mental illness in a time when there are not a lot of resources for her. Although her aunt and uncle love her as if she were their own, this is a story about how love does not conquer all. Maizee eventually falls in love with a kind man named Zeb, and it appears as if he is what she needs to calm the voices in her head. When Maizee discovers she’s pregnant, she and Zeb marry. All is going well, despite the surprise bundle of joy, until Pearl Harbor is attacked and Zeb feels he must enlist. While he’s gone, Maizee’s voices come back and she struggles to fight them.
You’ll find it hard to put this novel down until it’s finished, and after, you’ll wonder if it was really fiction at all.

Monday, December 16, 2013

when i get that feeling, i want natural healing.

Heart disease kills more people than any other medical condition. Fact. Cardiologist, Chauncey Crandall, who has to spend his time elbow deep in heart surgeries would like to prevent this, which is why he has developed a 90-day program to stop and reverse heart disease in his medical reference titled The Simple Heart Cure. Just because you’ve been eating like a savage and not exercising your whole life, doesn’t mean that it’s over for you. You can reverse the effects of your unhealthy lifestyle by MAKING A CHANGE, or four.

Dr. Crandall lays out his plan very clearly, so it’s easy for anyone to understand. He explains how your lifestyle choices affect your life, and includes lots of advice and recipes to follow in order to get you off the path to heart attacks and medications and on the path to health and happiness.

Friday, December 13, 2013

required reading for politicians.

Authors Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson are here to explain why some nations are prosperous and others not in their economic resource titled Why Nations Fail. These two have spent 15 years collaboratively studying many nations around the world, and with their collective research have drawn some interesting conclusions. I thought the very first example touched on was particularly interesting regarding Nogales which borders the US and Mexico. The observation is made that the wealth on one side of the border is very different from the other despite the populations having the same ancestry. The facts are told in a narrative voice rather than in graph/chart form which I personally enjoyed. But I know that many of you economists out there prefer your charts so that you can get your information quickly. There is a lot of history in this book, which could bore some of you who are just looking for the answers, but if you have some time, I suggest picking up a copy.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

well that was uncomfortable.

Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields by Wendy Lower is a fascinating case study of a dozen women, detailing the roles they played before, during, and after the Nazi era. It is actually pretty horrendous. Not the writing of course, but the content. Lower exposes these Nazi women as murderers and thieves. Just as heartless as their male counterparts. Although many German women during WWII were not as cruel as the ones in this book, they did do their part to help the system function and let’s be honest, that was enough to lose sleep at night.

If you find it hard to believe that women were active participants in the destruction of the Jews, check out the citations. Lower has done her research.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

not that you’re planning for it, but just in case it happens.

Divorce. Bah, what an ugly word. I hated that my parents were divorced growing up. Coming from a broken home and having a different last name than my mom, it sucked. I didn’t want my parents to still be together by any means, I just wished my mom had picked a different guy to marry and have babies with the first time around. The thing is, divorce happens and it could happen to anybody – EVEN Christians. No one is safe. Elisabeth Klein Corcoran is sharing some details from her own divorce in hopes to help others in her book titled Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage. The absolute best thing about Unraveling is how candid Corcoran gets with readers. She is honest and real, and this is what makes this self-help so helpful. In each chapter of Unraveling, she walks us through a different emotion you will feel if your marriage is coming apart, and after each chapter she leaves us with a Prayer - and A Next Step - and A Way Forward. So instead of feeling defeated, you are filled with courage and hope for the future. Amen to that!

Monday, December 9, 2013

the delphi trilogy.

I love me some young adult suspense, and I am totally loving this new trilogy by Chris Everhart, so much in fact that I read Book 1 & 2 in just a few days. It is definitely the type of series that will catch the attention of more reluctant readers, as Everhart’s writing is very descriptive (in a good way) giving teenage readers the ability to easily “see” the characters and environment they are reading about. And the Delphi aspect comes from real ancient Greek history incorporated into the books. Very cool.

In The League of Delphi, book 1 of the Delphi Trilogy, 17-year-old Zach has returned to his hometown to rediscover who he is. He has spent that last ten years hiding out on strict orders from his mother to never reveal his real true identity. Now that she has passed away from cancer, he finally goes home to find some answers. In the midst of his digging to figure out what happened in his own past, Zach teams up with a girl named Ashley and discovers that the entire town is being controlled by a secret society that has the entire population under surveillance. And the secrets just keep on coming out…

In book 2, titled The Delphi Deception, Romance continues to brew between Zach and Ashley, and when trouble strikes he will do anything to save her. Zach and an unlikely accomplice team up to try to solve the mystery that surrounds the entire town and save his first love. This installment delivers the same page-turning action and suspense as the first, turning this series into one that both teens and adults can enjoy.

Friday, December 6, 2013

must-read memoir.

The title Preemptive Love by Jeremy Courtney already had me thinking at first glance. First the title, Preemptive Love, which is a love that is both proactive and preventative. A love that saves people. Along with a strong anti-violence message, that is what this memoir is all about.

Jeremy, an American who was working in Iraq couldn’t help but notice the huge backlog of children waiting for heart surgery. He, his family and other supporters established a non-profit organization called the Preemptive Love Coalition in hopes to save as many sick children as possible. This is his story including all of the life-threatening challenges he faced in a country that is known for its violence and chemical warfare. One of his mantras, “love first, ask questions later” will stay with you long after the last page.

I have received a free copy of this book from Howard Books, for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

a masterpiece cookbook.

Food Network darling, Sunny Anderson has welcomed us into her kitchen with her very first cookbook Sunny’s Kitchen: Easy Food for Real Life which includes 125 easy AND affordable recipes that everyone in your family will love. I would make a solid 75% of these recipes just based on my first look, and that says a lot. Most cookbooks have me weeding through a lot of unnecessary recipes before I get to the good stuff.

I make an excellent meatloaf that’s a real crowd pleaser with my dinner guests, but I decided to try Sunny’s Spicy Garlic Meatloaf to change it up a bit, and oh my! All of the recipes I’ve tried so far are super tasty with clear directions. Sunny’s got my recommendation for sure.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

a great debut.

Valerie Plame is an undercover CIA agent turned author, and apparently she took the advice to write about what you know based on her debut novel Blowback and her spy main character Vanessa Pierson. In this story, Vanessa has one all-consuming goal, to catch the international arms dealer and terrorist known as Bhoot. This is a spy thriller, and it reads like one, filled with suspense, fast paced split second decision making by our heroine, and lots of intensity. The best part? Authenticity. I mean, these two kick ass ladies have the same initials for a reason.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

get some suspense back in your life.

Barbara Rogan’s A Dangerous Fiction is full of twists and turns that keep you guessing into the very end. My favorite kind of murder-mystery.

Jo Donovan is a successful literary agent. One night after work she is approached by a wannabe writer who insists that she take a look at a manuscript that her agency had already turned down. Saved by her colleague Jean-Paul, Jo tries to disregard her stalker situation until there are attacks against her business and even her clients. Enter Tommy Cullen, a homicide detective whom Joe had a past relationship with. But even he can’t be trusted to help a girl out because in Jo’s opinion, no stranger could hate her this much.

Monday, December 2, 2013

prairie style.

I would believe anything that Rachel Ashwell has to say about interior design based on the look of her Rachel Ashwell Couture Prairie book alone. It’s so gorgeous; I use it as home d├ęcor. I don’t know about prairie style, but shabby chic is right up my alley, and that is what Ashwell is about. I bought a house four months ago, and am taking a long time to decorate because it’s so hard for me to commit when I don’t find exactly what I’m looking for. It appears as if anything old that Ashwell touches turns to gold, so if it’s inspiration that you’re looking for, you’ve found it.


Friday, November 29, 2013

honeymoon planning.

I swear planning a honeymoon is more difficult than planning a wedding. We are in between Mexico and Jamaica as destinations, which is why getting Lonely Planet’s Cancun, Cozumel & the Yucatan Travel Guide saved the day. We plan on staying at a resort, but are looking into some outside activities. So many ruins, so little time, and this Lonely Planet guide is jam packed with ideas on what to do and see in Cancun, Cozumel, Riviera Maya, the Southern Caribbean Coast, and the Maya Heartland, including TOP things to do, and what you absolutely need to know about these locations. For example, when to go, where to stay, transportation, currency used, where to eat, etiquette and safety – they break it down for you for every locale.

In Mexico you get more bang for your buck than in other Caribbean hot spots, so I absolutely suggest this guide in planning your next tropical vacation.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

an essential guide for your health.

Author and herbalist Stephen Harrod Buhner has created quite the second edition with Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-resistant Bacteria, as in three times the size of the original book published in 1998.

As a society we are extremely overmedicated, which is why herbal remedies are becoming all the rage (again). Buhner did his research on resistant bacteria herbal antibiotics so that we don’t have to, citing more than 1,200 studies on the subject. The best part of the book is not only that we are given the most promising antibacterial herbs, but Buhner also shows how to make them ourselves OR where to buy them, whatever works for you. Herbal Antibiotics is extremely well-researched, has a ton of details, AND is easy to read. What more could you want out of a health reference?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

a guided tour.

Jennifer Chiaverini’s Elm Creek series has turned into a must-read for all of the crafty broads out there who are looking for more relatable characters. Chiaverini has pleasantly surprised her fans with An Elm Creek Quilts Companion where she expertly brings the characters and setting to life.

An Elm Creek Quilts Companion includes the Bergstrom family tree, character biographies, quilt block illustrations, full-color photographs of quilts featured in the novels, and gives readers a behind the scenes look into the Elm Creek Quilt Camp. Keep in mind that this book works as a guide for the series, and does not include much new fiction. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

lifelong health.

YAY! My Eat to Live Cookbook finally came! I have been impatiently waiting for it to arrive so I could dive right in! I am in such a cooking rut, and with the wedding coming, Manfriend and I are trying to crank up the healthy eating. Joel Fuhram, M.D. has created 200 Delicious Nutrient-Rich recipes for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, reversing Disease, and Lifelong Health. Sign me up!

The first 30 pages have everything you need to get started on the “nutritarian” lifestyle, making it easy to slowly add nutritious foods into your diet. The recipes are tasty and easy to make, encouraging you to continue on your healthy journey rather than making your life more complicated when it comes to meals. There are a ton of main dishes and desserts to choose from, which is nice. I haven’t gotten past the more appetizer type dishes so far. My favorites are the Kale Krinkle Chips and Tuscan White Bean Dip. I’m starting off slow here people.

Monday, November 25, 2013

basically you don’t know anything.

As an educator, The De-Text Book: The Stuff You Didn’t Know About the Stuff You Thought You Knew mildly offended me with its rants on how teachers have filled the heads of students with facts that are false. Keeping amazing information about the world edited so that students wouldn’t get excited, and then out of control in class. Don’t make me go all Common Core on your asses! Okay, I’m not really offended by the writers at Cracked, since they are sharing some hilarious truths about the world and mankind.

Designed as a classic textbook, the information is separated into eight chapters with titles like Sex Education, Health and Nutrition, and packed with facts on American History, Biology, and Psychology. It is organized in a style that shows common myths and truths together with some humorous explanations. Honestly, it will make you question everything you thought you knew about everything you thought you learned.

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Friday, November 22, 2013

zombie and superhero lovers.

The third installment in Peter Cline’s Ex series titled Ex-Communication is told to be The Avengers meets The Walking Dead, and I can’t disagree.

The series revolves around ex-superheroes vs. zombies, yet Ex-Communication is the first story where the zombies are more than background noise, and are ready to do some major destruction to humanity. Cline still tells the story in both past and present time, giving us insight into our hero’s pasts. And overall this is just a really fun addition to the saga.

I don’t want to give any more away, so if you haven’t read the first installments, please do so, and prepare to get super attached to this series.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

best school lunches, eva eva.

Catherine McCord seriously knows what’s up when it comes to school lunches. As in, she doesn’t send her kids to school with two bucks to buy chicken patties and pizza; she sends them stocked with the coolest, tastiest, HEALTHY lunches. Her recipe book, Weelicious Lunches: Think Outside the Lunchbox with More than 160 Happier Meals is filled with ideas to give moms some lunch packing inspiration. Recipes include, hearty soups, colorful salads, different types of sandwiches (she doesn’t exclude the infamous PB&J), snacks and dips.

McCord’s Principals of the Perfect Lunch section includes ideas on how to easily add everything your kid should have nutritionally at lunch time, veggies, fruits, carbs and protein. And gives tips on how to “reinvent leftovers” so that lunch meals are less work, and less money. I for one adore leftovers, but I understand that you have to dress them up a bit differently for your picky child. McCord addresses picky eaters and allergies so she’s got all of you and your weird kids covered. If you have a kid and they need to be fed at lunchtime, this is the recipe book for you.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

business: a powerful tool for change.

Whenever we think of big business, we immediately get our backs up and picture men in thousand dollar suits, sipping on scotch in the middle of the day, using all of the money they make to house their illegitimate children. Oh wait, that’s not what you picture? My bad.

Mission in a Bottle by Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff is a straight up story about the business they created called Honest Tea, and how they used it as a force of good, even as their brand became more and more successful. They designed a mission all those years ago, and it still holds true today. Told in comic-style, these two entrepreneurs understand that a successful business takes more than just a good idea, and they share advice and insights to anyone who’s interested in doing business differently, and succeeding.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

a lovely series comes to an end.

My Hope is Found is the final book in the Cadence of Grace Trilogy by Joanne Bischof, so Lonnie and Gideon’s love story has come to an end, on paper anyway. And keep in mind that you absolutely need to read the books in order to enjoy this series.

After Lonnie and Gideon finally get together, a woman in Gideon's past comes back into his life, claiming she is his rightful wife, leaving him no choice but to return to her. As Lonnie tries to get past this news and move on with her life, she meets Reverend Tommy McKee and things start getting very serious. When Gideon returns, he is really going to have to fight to win Lonnie back, but he may be too little, too late to fix this mess and reunite his family.

Monday, November 18, 2013

science mystery for the middle grades.

11-year-old twins Nick and Tesla can always figure out the perfect formula for getting into trouble. These science buffs love mischief, and are constantly using their gadget making skills to help them solve mysteries.

Nick & Tesla’s High Voltage Danger Lab by Science Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockesmith is not just a mystery tale; it includes instructions on how to make the gadgets they build in the actual story. Each story in the series includes 5 detailed illustrated projects for the reader to try ranging from soda-powered mini vehicles and improvised burglar alarms to electromagnets and rocket launchers. Get your tween something fun and educational this Christmas!

Friday, November 15, 2013

from the midwest to the big apple.

Amy Thielen’s The New Midwestern Table: 200 Heartland Recipes is SO Midwest with recipes heavy on the cheese, potatoes, corn, beef, and fish. The recipes are super reasonable, with minimal amounts of weird ingredients. The ones I found most enticing were: Classic Beef Pot Roast, Fried Chicken and Gravy, and the ever popular Fresh Cheese Ball.

Theilen’s recipes are whatever the Midwestern equivalent for fabulous is; however, she delivers much more than a kick ass cookbook as she offers a brief history on the Midwest, cute stories, and her experiences cooking in Manhattan's fine-dining kitchens. I gotta say, girl makes Midwestern cuisine seem much more appealing than I had previously thought.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

realistic fiction.

Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel is a super relatable story to anyone who has faced any major trials, like the loss of a job, or a big move, while also trying to keep their family and lifestyle intact. Georgia and her husband Graham have been hit with a streak of bad luck. Graham’s sleeping disorder caused him to lose his job, their three-year-old son Frankie has decided to refuse to speak and Georgia’s dealing with her own business failure. They decide to pick up and move back to her childhood home of Miami and start fresh on a houseboat.

The story is told from Georgia’s perspective and Daniel really allows readers to get into this character’s head. This is a woman who has a husband with a serious problem, and a son who currently has issues communicating. Many readers can relate to balancing relationships between their spouse and their children, and will really enjoy this story of a strong woman who has to make some tough decisions for her family.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

tune up your spirit.

We all want to be happy and successful. Most of us strive to be positive people on a daily basis, and Shawn Achor helps exponentially with his latest self-help title Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change.

Achor breaks Before Happiness into 5 skills to help you get to happy, master the art of happiness, while also spreading happiness to others:

·         Choosing the Most Valuable Reality
·         Mapping Your Success Route
·         Finding Success Accelerants
·         Eliminating Negative Noise
·         Transferring Your Positive Reality to Others

Achor suggests that, these same principles can be applied everywhere: to one's personal life; to businesses, both small and large. There’s a lot to get out of this Harvard-trained researcher’s ideas. If you want to achieve a better life in general, this is exactly the book you should be reading.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

smile, and put on your big girl panties.

Everyone and their brother's mailman's grandmother knows how much I enjoy reading anything by Janet Evanovich. So when Stephanie Evanovich (I'm assuming this is no coincidence) came out with her debut novel, Big Girl Panties, I was all over it. I wasn't prepared however, for how incredibly sexual my reading experience was going to be. We are talking phrases like "sweet creaminess" and "wet cavern" were used. I am super raunchy, but I still couldn't get myself to read all the gory details without some major blushing. My eyeballs are still scarred. Let me give you the low-down on the plot and such.

Holly Brennan is a thirty-two year old, overweight, widow who had sad childhood, so when she left home to go to college, and met Bruce, a super boring, but super caring guy, she married him without a single doubt. After eight years of marriage, Bruce was diagnosed with cancer and died, leaving Holly family and friendless in New Jersey, where Bruce had his treatments. After taking a trip to Toronto to close up a last business deal of her late husband's, Holly gets on a plane and meets Logan Montgomery, a super sexy personal trainer who decides to take her on as a client and change her life.

Logan is pretty famous, as he trains big shot athletes, and usually doesn't take on people like Holly who are just starting on their road to a healthy lifestyle, but there was something about her that made him want to help. Logan does end up changing her life, and their relationship becomes more than business when Holly begins to drop the weight, and other men begin to notice her. I don't think it's entirely realistic that a man as sexy as Logan is described, would change his taste from blonde models, to chubby red heads, but it sure was an entertaining read, and reminds us not to be so quick to judge.

Monday, November 11, 2013

southern gothic ghost story.

The Storycatcher by Ann Hite is not just a story about ghosts, FYI, but they are actively involved. Told in shifting points of view by women, from varying times including the 1930’s to the 1800’s, this story revolves around a sixteen-year-old servant girl named Shelley Parker, whose mother works for the local minister and his family, and Faith Dobbins, the minister’s daughter.

Shelly has the ability to see ghosts, and rumor on the street is that they won’t go away unless she helps them. It is obvious to Shelly that the minister her mother works for, Pastor Dobbins is evil, and it is reiterated by a ghost named Armetta Lolly who came to Shelly asking her to expose the dark truth about him.
The storyline is complex. There are a ton of characters both dead and alive that you must keep straight or you’re going to be super confused. BUT it’s such a fabulous ghost story, that if you’re the type to enjoy ghost stories, I’d get my hands on it in a New York minute.

Friday, November 8, 2013

vegetables and jazz hands.

I have vegetarian tendencies because honestly, some meat creeps me out. I’ll take meat breaks every once in a while, like from chicken on occasion, especially when I’m the one cooking it and I find something weird, or when I pass a farm. Vegetarian recipes never let me down, and that’s why I am thrilled to review Laura Theodore’s Jazzy Vegetarian Classics: Vegan Twists on American Family Favorites.

By vegetarian, Theodore means vegan, but DON’T let that scare you off. She has created almost two hundred healthy recipes, and most of them are plant-based versions of your favorite comfort foods, like spaghetti, pizza and tasty brunch. (Are mimosa’s vegan?)The cookbook ends with a very useful glossary of ingredients to educate readers who are not familiar with the many vegan substitutes out in the world today, even cheese and mayo.

If you’re unsure if the jazzy veggie lifestyle is for you, check out Theodore’s website at www.jazzyvegetarian.com and test a few recipes out before you commit to her classics cookbook.

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

the island of misfit souls.

Allan Gurganus writes of the local souls in the small town of Falls, North Carolina in his latest book titled Local Souls, which includes three novellas, all of which take place in Falls. Each story features diverse characters and standalone plots, which is perfect for those looking for a shorter read.

Gurganus’s first novella “Fear Not” is more like a short story, followed by “Saints Have Mothers” and “Decoy” which are the longer reads. What they all have in common is that all three stories include local souls who are a bit lost. They are desperate for some sort of connection with other characters, and not necessarily romantically. Between all three stories Gurganus has created something for every reader to relate to and enjoy.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

cinderella don't live here no mo.

In Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History without the Fairy-Tale Endings by Linda Rodrigues McRobbie, no one breaks into song, and no one has little birdies braid their hair every morning. There are no fairy godmothers, and no perfect hair days. Princesses Behaving Badly tells the story of real life princesses (or royalty), the good, the bad, and the really ugly.

The book is separated into several chapters such as Warriors, Usurpers, Schemers, Survivors, Partiers, Floozies, and Madwomen, each sharing mini-biographies of royal ladies who should have been given a poisoned apple by an ugly old lady. Okay, maybe not all of them, but definitely Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe who was a Nazi spy. McRobbie definitely sheds some light on the more raunchy women of history, and I like that.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

not to go all jesus on you lately...

Jerry B. Jenkins takes us back to first century Rome in his Christian fiction novel I, Saul, where he switches between writing about the Apostle Paul's last days in prison, to his life story, and even goes as far as incorporating Paul’s memoirs into a modern day tale that is quite the adventure. The three different story-lines enhanced the reading experience in my opinion; it definitely keeps you on your toes, so pay attention!

Jenkins’ plot is obviously based on the real life history of Paul, only spiced up with his excellent story-telling skills, including themes such as love and redemption. Messages that we all should be reminded of.

Monday, November 4, 2013

a fresh perspective on christianity.

Rob Bell became pretty well-known for his spiritual guidance when his international bestseller, Love Wins blew up the scene last year. Now the pastor turned author has another soon to be spiritual classic on his hands with his follow up What We Talk About When We Talk About God which explores the misconceptions about God in this modern day world we are living in.

Bell has a way of taking God out of the church and into a more relevant place in men and women’s lives. He explains how God has changed with the times just as we have, and uses little of the old school Christian mentality.  Many of you will enjoy the read because Bell presents your own theology so well. And even if you don’t agree with him, you can’t deny that he makes a good case.

Friday, November 1, 2013

5, 5, 5.

Michael  Symon (co-host of The Chew) has created quite the frenzy with his recipe book Michael Symon’s 5 in 5: 5 Fresh Ingredients + 5 minutes = 120 Fantastic Dinners. That’s right folks, over 100 recipes using only 5 ingredients each that only takes 5 minutes to make AND is also under $5 a serving.

Symon begins with pantry 101, what to keep your pantry stocked with so that you can easily whip up a tasty dinner. He then moves on to recipes that are delicious, inexpensive and SOOO fricken simple to make, and no, they are not all sandwiches, but there are some good ones included! Symon’s recipes include pork, sirloins, sausage, seafood, chicken, etc., so pretty much all of your bases are covered. There is not an extremely happenin’ dessert section, but we all could use a break from dessert during Halloween anyway. In my opinion, 5 in 5 is the perfect gift for new homeowners, college kids, and anyone who is a tad timid in the kitchen.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

walk like an egyptian.

Manfriend and I were OBSESSED with The Bible over the summer.  Like the DVD, not the actual reading material. I thought the important aspects of the Old Testament were portrayed extremely well in the series, minus the fact that Samson’s character was a black man, and we all know Samson wasn’t black. But other than that, I thought it was great. Which brings me to my review of The Exodus Reality: Unearthing the Real History of Moses, Identifying the Pharaohs, and Examining the Exodus from Egypt, which was also amaze.

In The Exodus Reality, authors Scott Alan Roberts and Dr. John Ward collaborate to summarize their two concepts of Moses, based on a large amount of research (obvious from the notes/appendixes). It is an extremely helpful resource for those of you studying the topic yourselves, while also being informative yet entertaining for the rest of us less scholarly readers.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

well that was intense.

David Vann’s Goat Mountain opens with a sacred ritual between a son, his father, grandfather and close family friend on their 640-acre family ranch in Northern California during the fall of 1978. This is the eleven-year-olds first time experiencing the annual hunt, and chance at killing his first buck. It is supposed to be this great rite of passage, but no one could have predicted the tragedy that followed. The boy’s father notices a poacher, and let’s his son have a look through the scope of his gun, who unexpectedly pulls the trigger, leaving the three men with a choice. To report or not to report – their choice only leads to more tragic events.

It’s not exactly a “feel good” read, but Vann’s writing style and descriptions of characters will make you want to highlight as you go, as to not forget such powerful words of expression.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

pickles, pigs, whiskey and f-bombs.

Chef John Currence’s first cookbook titled Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey: Recipes from My Three Favorite Food Groups and Then Some is quite the treat and is jam packed with 130 Southern-inspired recipes.

Not only does Currence supply us with amazing recipes, he also tells the story of his journey from 1983 to present day, which will help you better understand him and what he’s all about, thus making the cookbook a more enjoyable read as a whole. Chapters are divided into styles of cooking, such as Boiling & Simmering and Pickling & Canning, etc. to keep things nice and organized. Some of the recipes (not all) are a little ambitious for beginners. Pretty much anyone who’s looking for new and creative recipe ideas will benefit the most from this cookbook. Oh, and those of you who like cocktails as well.

Monday, October 28, 2013

scholarly yet readable.

In New York City’s 1920’s white women who came to Harlem to in hopes to embrace black culture were dubbed “Miss Anne”. In Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance writer and scholar, Carla Kaplan portrays six women who had the guts to head to the streets, raising hot button issues of race, gender, class and sexuality during that time period.

Lillian E Wood, Josephine Cogdell Schuyler, Annie Nathan Meyer, Charlotte Osgood Mason, Fannie Hurst and Nancy Cunard had an impact on the Harlem Renaissance that is seemingly hidden in the past. Their six biographies are well-written, and yet have some complexities, are full of insight on these women that history apparently forgot about. Kaplan does an excellent job of resurrecting stories that every feminist can be proud of.

Friday, October 25, 2013

a cookbook that tailors to large family needs.

It makes sense that Kate Gosselin would come out with a cookbook. Seeing as she has eight mouths to feed, you’d think that she’d be a relatively good cook. Turns out, she is, and proves it in Love is in the Mix: Making Meals into Memories with Family-Friendly Recipes, Tips and Traditions.

As a mother of eight, there are a lot of different tastes in her kitchen come meal time. This cookbook really is family-friendly, as it includes meals that all of your kids will love. Keep in mind that Gosselin doesn’t go too far outside the box here recipe wise and her recipes are designed for large families, so smaller ones will need to adjust ingredients. Honestly, Love is in the Mix is pretty basic, but the recipes are crowd pleasers, and who needs complicated when you have a large family? No one.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

the literal crazy and rich.

Crazy Rich by Jerry Oppenheimer is the story of the famous Johnson family. You know, the ones who brought you the Band-Aid and Johnson's Baby products that make your baby smell like a baby.  Not surprising to many of you I’m sure, but the Johnson’s have a lot of issues, and Oppenheimer is happy share all of the dysfunction so that we can feel better about our own families – 500 pages of it.

This biography begins as most do, at the beginning. The Johnson dynasty originated with three relatively uneducated, but ambitious brothers, Robert, James, and Edward Mead Johnson. Crazy Rich includes the glory, along with all of the scandals, tragedies, and misfortune. We are talking generations of skeletons here people, a giant mess. I know we shouldn’t be entertained by other people’s bad luck…but it’s just toooooo crazy not to participate. Sorry Johnson’s.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

tugs on your heartstrings.

In Weekends with Daisy by Sharon Kahn Luttrell, Daisy is a beautiful yellow lab puppy who is being trained to be a service dog by an unlikely pair. Sharron, a journalist joined the “puppy raiser program” to get over the loss of her own dog and Keith, a prison inmate whose job is to train service dogs. Basically, Keith’s role is to train Daisy during the week, and Sharon takes her home on the weekends to get her used to being out in the world. This is more than a story about an adorably cute puppy. It’s a story about two very different people who must work together for a common goal. And it’s about understanding people, where they come from, and letting judgments go. It’s a great story, and loving dogs is not a prerequisite.