Friday, September 12, 2014
National pie champion, mom, homemaker, and self-proclaimed redneck, Francine Bryson won the hearts of bakers everywhere when she appeared on CBS’s The American Baking Competition and went on to become a finalist on the show. Known for her down-home Southern charm and sass (and for successfully pairing chocolate and peanut butter with bacon), Francine now shares her sought-after recipes and tips in her very first baking book.
I am one of the many whose heart was won by this wonderfully genuine lady. I loved watching Francine compete on The American Baking Competition and was thrilled when this cookbook was released.
And I simply love this book. From the delicious recipes to the stories behind the recipes to the beautifully decorated pages of the book.
Chock full of recipes to satisfy any sweet tooth it's hard to decide which one to make first. Many of these recipes will seem familiar but Francine has added some wonderful twists to the familiar recipes and made them brand new.
Highly recommended. Don't miss this one.
More wonderful information can be found here.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for my honest review.
Monday, September 1, 2014
Fourteen-year-old Daniel Kelly is special. Despite his upbringing in working-class Melbourne, he knows that his astonishing ability in the swimming pool has the potential to transform his life, silence the rich boys at the private school to which he has won a sports scholarship, and take him far beyond his neighborhood, possibly to international stardom and an Olympic medal. Everything Danny has ever done, every sacrifice his family has ever made, has been in pursuit of this dream. But what happens when the talent that makes you special fails you? When the goal that you’ve been pursuing for as long as you can remember ends in humiliation and loss?
Twenty years later, Dan is in Scotland, terrified to tell his partner about his past, afraid that revealing what he has done will make him unlovable. When he is called upon to return home to his family, the moment of violence in the wake of his defeat that changed his life forever comes back to him in terrifying detail, and he struggles to believe that he’ll be able to make amends. Haunted by shame, Dan relives the intervening years he spent in prison, where the optimism of his childhood was completely foreign.
Tender, savage, and blazingly brilliant, Barracuda is a novel about dreams and disillusionment, friendship and family, class, identity, and the cost of success. As Daniel loses everything, he learns what it means to be a good person—and what it takes to become one.
This is not my normal style book - but something about the reviews I read made me want to give it a try.
The language is horrendous. The sex is crass, vulgar and frankly there was at least one part that made my skin crawl.
But, if you look past that, the book was wonderful. It was not a page turner - and I can't pin point the exact place in the book where the author "had me" but he did. It was compelling and well written and it made me want to pick up another of Mr. Tsiolkas' books.
Dan was a perfect example of a young, talented child who dreamed of a future using his gift - until the gift failed him.His family was a perfect mixture - the mother who would sacrifice anything for her son, the father who was a bit wary of where this was all leading, the younger brother who idolized him and the younger sister who felt left out and alone.
Then there were the friends - Demet, who he grew up with but left behind when he went to school on a scholarship, Luke, the younger student who adores him and would do anything for him, and the other members of the swim team - but were they his friends? And of course the coach who was sure he had finally found his Olympian. Will he let them down - or will they let him down?
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book - just remember, there's lots of bad language and quite a bit of sex.
You can go here for more information.
"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Have you ever wished you could...
- Unpack emotional baggage and deal with the past
- Confront perfectionism and negative attitudes
- Change your perspective on your circumstances
- Let go of regret and shame
- Build positive healthy relationships
- Dream big and live with purpose
What a fun book this is! Michelle offers tips for addressing real life issueswith a generous dose of humor. She's not afraid to let us see the real Michelle and give us comfort in knowing that the trials we are dealing with are not ours alone.
There are great ideas and if you like crafty things, there are some suggestions at the end of each chapter to make something to remind you of what you've learned.
I did the book as sort of a Bible study - a chapter a week - and really enjoyed having the week to think on what I had read before moving on to the next chapter.
Click here for a wonder Q&A with Michelle to get some insight to her life.
I highly recommend this book.
Many thanks to Michelle and KCW Communications for my free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Saturday, August 16, 2014
An extraordinary novel about a strong-willed woman who disguises herself as a man in order to fight beside her husband, inspired by the letters of a remarkable female soldier who fought in the Civil War. Rosetta doesn't want her new husband Jeremiah to enlist, but he joins up, hoping to make enough money that they'll be able to afford their own farm someday. Though she's always worked by her father’s side as the son he never had, now that Rosetta is a wife she's told her place is inside with the other women. But Rosetta decides her true place is with Jeremiah, no matter what that means, and to be with him she cuts off her hair, hems an old pair of his pants, and signs up as a Union soldier.
With the army desperate for recruits, Rosetta has no trouble volunteering, although she faces an incredulous husband. She drills with the men, proves she can be as good a soldier as anyone, and deals with the tension as her husband comes to grips with having a fighting wife. Rosetta's strong will clashes with Jeremiah's while their marriage is tested by broken conventions, constant danger, and war, and she fears discovery of her secret even as they fight for their future, and for their lives. Inspired by more than 250 documented accounts of the women who fought in the Civil War while disguised as men, I Shall Be Near To You is the intimate story, in Rosetta’s powerful and gorgeous voice, of the drama of marriage, one woman’s amazing exploits, and the tender love story that can unfold when two partners face life’s challenges side by side.
When I first read the description of this book I was simply fascinated. I love all things Civil War but I had never heard anything at all about women disguising themselves as men and fighting alongside their husband, fathers and brothers.
When the lists of casualties start being posted, Jeremiah and his friends decide they need to join up. Rosetta doesn't want Jeremiah to go without them being married, so in just a few short weeks time, they get married and he goes off to fight. Once he leaves, Rosetta decides she can't stay behind and be a wife without a husband so she cuts her hair, puts on a pair of pants and heads off to join him. These actions are tied to the Bible in a couple of different ways - a husband and wife leaving their parents and cleaving to each other and the story of Ruth and Naomi (wither thou goest, I will go). It's a beautiful action of a woman who can't bear to be separated from her husband - and a husband who can't bear to be separated from his wife, because when Rosetta finally reaches Jeremiah, even though he fears for her safety, he can't bring himself to insist she go home.
This book was very compelling. The descriptions make you feel like you are there. The courage of all these people - men and women - is simply amazing. The raw fear combined with the need and desire to fight for what they believed in is inspirational.
I laughed, I cried, I loved it all.
Be sure to read the author's notes at the end of the book - some really interesting information - and I was, quite frankly, shocked by some of it.
This is a not to be missed book.
More information can be found here: http://www.randomhouse.com/book/228490/i-shall-be-near-to-you-by-erin-lindsay-mccabe
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
Torn between the affections of two men, will Emma's time away from home help her choose?
Although promised to the widowed neighbor Zeb, Emma is considering leaving her Amish community to watch over her younger brother Mark when he leaves for Philadelphia to explore the outside world during his Rumspringa.
There, she reconnects with her former beau Caleb, who protects the Amish teens, introducing them to his life evangelizing and helping the homeless. Unbeknownst to Emma, Caleb is glad for the opportunity to spend time with her and hopes to win her back.
Struck by the power of evangelism and outreach, Emma begins to feel a draw to Caleb's way of life. When she doesn’t return home when she promised, Zeb goes to the city to find her, forcing Emma to choose in which of their two worlds she really belongs.
I was thrilled to win a copy of this book on one of my favorite authors, Vanetta Chapman's website.
I really enjoyed this book. It's a bit different than some of the other "Amish" books I've read. I know that all Amish communities are not the same. In most books I have read "rumspringa" is a time of experiencing the outside world - and so it is in this book. But in this book it's more of a specific "time and place". What I have heard about it before is that it's mostly a secret thing - the parents not necessarily knowing where and what the kids are doing and a lot of it is done with the kids coming home at night and still, for the most part, carrying on with the normal day to day life.
In this book it's a group of kids going to the inner city and staying at a homeless shelter. The parents know where they are and they either stay there and make a life for themselves or return home after weeks or months there.
It was interesting reading about a different way to do rumspringa. This one reminded me a lot of what our local churches do as an outreach - although for only a week or two at a time.
These characters were easy to like - they had flaws, no one was perfect and they had struggles. What happened at the shelter was a good view in to inner city life and very real.
I highly recommend this book. It's book one of a series and I'm looking forward to reading the next two.
Thanks to Beth Shriver for sending me the copy and to Vanetta Chapman for the offer to win it.
Sunday, August 10, 2014
The wonderful folks at Blogging for Books is coordinating a giveaway for a copy of this book. My review (I really liked this book!) can be found here.
The contest starts on July 31, 2014 at 6:00am EST and ends on August 20th, 2014 at 11:59pm. One winner will be chosen at random on August 21st, 2014 and will be alerted by email. For a complete listing of the rules, please see below.
Here's where you will go to enter the drawing:
Please make sure to read through all their rules and guidelines before entering.
Sunday, August 3, 2014
When a band of runaway slaves brings Union-loyal Beth Bumgartner a wounded Confederate soldier named Joe, it is the catalyst that pushes her to defy her pacifist parents and become a nurse during the Battle of Antietam
Her mother's mysterious goodbye gift is filled with quilt blocks that bring comfort to Beth during the hard days and lonely nights, but as she sews each block, she realizes there is a hidden message of faith within the pattern that encourages and sustains her. Reunited with Joe, Beth learns his secret and puts the quilt's message to its greatest test—but can betrayal be forgiven?
This is a fabulous addition to the Quilts of Love Series.Each book is by a different author and I have loved each one I have read.
This one is very special to me because I love anything and everything about the Civil War and I know the places they talk about in the book - Sharpsburg, Frederick, Hagerstown (I work in Hagerstown!).
This book highlights something that I suppose was pretty common but yet untalked about in a lot of books - the relationships that built between Northern and Southern people. Yes, by shear definition of the war, people from one side were not supposed to support or aid people from the other side. But human nature and emotions don't always go by rules.
So grows the affection between wounded Rebel soldier Joe and his Northern nurse Beth. And what of Jim, the free black man who helps Beth to take care of Joe? Can he care for a Rebel soldier?
And what about the package Beth's mother sent her - a package of quilt blocks. What could she have been thinking - sending quilt blocks to a nurse who would be overwhelmed with wounded and dying soldiers? What is so important about those quilts blocks - and how will Beth figure out the riddle.
Highly recommended - this book as well as the series.