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 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.