Thursday, July 17, 2014

book review: the Loving Kitchen

This book by LeAnn Rice was a nice cookbook. I recieved it as an ebook, and it is easy to navigate as the index contains links to the pages, and you can navigate by chapter as well.  The recipes are good basic recipes with normal every day ingredients.  The recipes aren't new and inventive so much, but I like having nice basic cookbooks as well.  I wish there were a few more pictures, but the instructions are good. There are lots of great breakfast recipes, some that can be made ahead to simplify the morning's rush. Breads, Starters and Salads, Soups and Sandwiches, Entrees, Vegetables and Sides, and Desserts are the remaining chapters. I love that the final chapters are called Reaching out and Gathering In, where the author relates her experience briefly of dealing with her husband's death from cancer, and realizing the importance of reaching out to others and helping as we can, in her case, through sharing gifts of food. In Gathering In, she talks about the importance of meals as a family and includes conversational games to get everyone interacting.

I recommend this book to all cooks who enjoy good, solid recipes with everyday ingredients.  It would be especially good I think, for beginning cooks as things are basic and clear and not overwhelming with odd, difficult ingredients and techniques.

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

Book Review: Murder at the Mikado

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the third book in the series (don't worry, I think you can read them on their own, I read 2 and 3 without ever reading 1). I enjoy what I've read of this series so far, this mystery was no exception. The mystery is intriguing and keeps me guessing. I enjoy the characters as well; Drew, the wealthy gallant young man especially. He's not your typical heir, instead genuinely cares about people, like his estate manager who is a good friend, and treats those of all stations with respect and kindness. Madeline is Drew's American fiancĂ©, and while I enjoyed her character in the previous book, I found myself quite annoyed with her in this book as she seemed to flip flop between being whiny about wanting Drew to drop the detective case of investigating a murder in which his ex-girlfriend is. A suspect, and understanding why he felt the need to investigate. Even when another person of interest offers him information about the birth mother he has been searching for in exchange for clearing her name, Madeline gets upset and says that she doesn't understand why it can't be left in the past (though previously in this book and the previous one she is in full agreement with his desire to find his birth mother,  Her immaturity and poor attitude throughout the book did detract from the story for me. The mystery was great though and perhaps I'm just terrible with figuring out the who-dun-it, but it was not who I thought it might be!

This is labeled Christian fiction, but it honestly is very sparing in that area. A few of the characters mention God rather vaguely and Drew prays several times, especially towards the end about his Spiritual life, but I don't think it would be overwhelming for non-Christian readers looking for a clean mystery/romance. I enjoy this series and would definitely read more!

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

Monday, July 14, 2014

Book Review: The Homesick Texan's Family Table

This cookbook, The Homesick Texan's Family Table, is a beautiful book filled with gorgeous pictures of food and the Texas countryside. 

I wasn't sure how much I'd find that I actually wanted to try, but actually have many that I'd love to try first!  It seemed that everytime I turned the page, I'd change my mind about which was first on the list!  I am dying to try the buttermilk bacon-fat flour tortillas, since I've been trying to become better at my own!  I love breads so obviously the Oatmeal Bread, Buttermilk Dinner Rolls and Angel biscuits are also on my list!  The rest of the breakfast dishes sound delicious as well, and I may even have to venture into making my own sausage, because the Bacon-Molasses Breakfast Sausage sounds so good! And this is all just from chapter 1, the Breakfast and Breads chapter!

Every section and recipe start with a anecdote about the origin, or some memory of the recipe with relation to the author's family, and her writing adds so much to the book. It feels like you are sitting down with her as she shares her family with you. I love how she takes family recipes and gives them (sometimes) a new twist, such as with the simple Chipotle Ranch-Spiced Oyster Crackers. j

The recipes are not filled with wild and crazy ingredients or tools, but really seemed to use ingredients that could be found anywhere.  The author lives in NY and notes and the beginning that she cooks in a tiny kitchen.  It's refreshing (and helpful) to read a cookbook where the cooking feels attainable- I don't have to have a restaurant style kitchen to succeed!  Throughout the recipes, especially in the main section, she notes about how while Texans may do it a certain way (grill, smoker etc), she uses the oven/broiler etc due to her circumstances and I love that  the recipes are written this way for the ordinary home cook. 

The recipes do include a lot of peppers and other spicy-er ingredients, but if you like Texan and Mexican style food, then you'll love this cookbook.  Even if you don't, there are definitely recipes for you as well (the dessert section is amazing... Fresh Peach Ice Cream, Molasses and Spiced Pecan Ice Cream, Strawberry Shortcake, Gingerbread, Pecan Pie... mmmm..... And there are other recipes too without too much kick, like the Shrimp Boil, and Catfish Tacos.

I'm so happy to have this cookbook on my shelf and can't wait to cook from it!

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

Book Review: All for a Sister

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This novel was the third in a series apparently, but don't let that scare you away. in guessing they are not really interrelated as I never once felt like I had missed something.  The premise of this novel was so intriguing. when the DuFrane family's baby daughter dies from what is labeled an accidental death, the mother Marguerite cannot believe this and begins her crusade against 12 year old Dana Lundgren who ends up spending 20 years of her young life locked away in prison. The story begins with and being returned to the DuFrane family residence as coheir with young Celeste and is revealed through Dana's telling of the story, flashbacks of Celeste childhood, and the confessional writing of Marguerite DuFrane. The story was engaging as Celeste learns that things were not as she thought, and struggles with reentry into a completely new lifestyle from the one she left at twelve, and the mystery of what happened to the family is revealed. This is an excellent novel for those looking for clean engaging mysteries. While it is a Christian novel, I don't find it overwhelmingly so, and actually found myself wondering for most of the novel where the faith aspect was. It wasn't quite as inspiring with regards to faith as other Christian novels but does lend itself to a wider audience as I don't think nonchristian readers will be so overwhelmed. A excellent read, and I definitely wouldn't mind reading the others in the series or other by this author.

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

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Book Review: Treat Yourself

I was lucky enough to snag a review copy of this tasty looking book, Treat Yourself, by Jennifer Steinhauer who blogs at  In this book, she takes treats from the past and shares recipes to make them at home. She has 7 chapters including Classic Cookies, Sandwich Cookies, Snack Cakes, Fruity Treats and Filled things, Savory Snacks, Candy, and Frozen Treats.  Recipes I'm looking forward to trying include the Lorna Doone Shortbread Cookies, Mint Milanos, and Zebra Cakes. She has recipes for Honey Buns (They have to be even better than the packaged ones!), Hostess Cupcakes that my husband will love, Strawberry Pop-Tarts with a variation for Cinnamon ones (my favorites!), and Pinwheels.  Savory snacks include things like funyuns, cheeze-its, Ritz Crackers, and pizza pockets. I may have to try the recipes for Twix and Junior mints in the candy section, and  my kids would probably think the candy dots are fun!  And my daughter practically salivated over ice cream sandwiches and Nutty Buddies (drumsticks) and the Strawberrry Shortcake Ice Cream Pops are on my list.  

The list of snacks is excellent and the recipes seem fairly simple to do.  The pictures make me hungry just to look at! My only criticism of the book is that I wish each recipe included at least a small picture.  Most of the pictures included are full page color photos that are amazing, but there are a few recipes with no photos.  Even a small thumbnail would be helpful for those of us who aren't familiar with all the old treats.  I would definitely recommend this book, my daughter and I are looking forward to trying out a lot of the recipes!

You can check out a selection from the book here.
And you can read more about it from the publisher here

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

Book Review: The Imagination Station, Captured on the High Seas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a great book for young readers (elementary age) that gives a peek into the Revolutionary War. The books are a spin off of the radio series, and this book follows cousins Patrick and Beth as they are sent back in time by Whit at Whit's end in the Imagination Station. This is book 14, and though I've never read any of the others, they appear to jump off of each other. In this book there is a brief introduction of their past adventure (from book 13 I assume) where they went to meet Paul Revere.  A musket ball strikes the Imagination Station and breaks the windshield, and they end up on an American ship when they thought they were going home. Young readers get an exciting look at the life of soldiers at sea during the Revolutionary War and meet young James Forten.  I really liked how the end included a page of "Questions about this book", in this case, 3 questions that clarify the story as well as what was real and what was fiction.  There is a lead in to the next book in the series as well. I think this book was well written and while being full of adventure to entertain the reader, it also provides a lot of information about history.  I'd recommend these to young readers and feel that they are a fun way to learn about history while enjoying an exciting read.

I recieved this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.