Lizzy & Jane – A Review

_225_350_Book.1428.coverLizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay; the sophomore novel by the author of Dear Mr. Knightley, is just as charming as her first.  Lizzy and Jane, sisters, are nothing like their namesakes. In fact they are much more like Anne Elliot and Mrs. Musgrove from Persuasion if I had to pick two people from a Jane Austen book to compare these two. In fact, Lizzy, the one telling her story, alludes to Persuasion several times within the story.

Lizzy has lost her touch in cooking. Just just doesn’t have that zing she had when she first opened Feast a small restaurant in New York City, funded by the charming, but ruthless Paul Metzger. Paul decides Feast needs a bit of help, so in comes the dazzling and popular chef Trent Murray.

Now, not only has Lizzy lost the top position in her restaurant, but her sister is struggling with breast cancer and chemotherapy, something their mother succumbed to back when Lizzy was in high school. Lizzy has never forgiven Jane for leaving after high school, being eight years older, and never coming home during the time Lizzy’s mother passed away. Needless to say, there is animosity between the sisters.

But Lizzy needs a change. So she packs up and flies back to Seattle to visit and try to find that zing she has lost.  From dealing with her sister’s chemo treatments, reacquainting herself with her father and nephew and niece, and even meeting Nick, Jane’s colleague in the marketing world, Seattle is almost more than Lizzy bargained for. And Nick is more than Lizzy expected. Single father of an adorable little boy, he’s a cautious man that has been stunned by Lizzy’s sharp New York self. But he can’t stay away. Somewhat like a Mr. Darcy we all know and love.

Will Lizzy get her zing? Will she and Jane ever reconcile all their past hates? Will Lizzy end up with Paul, Trent, or Nick?  I want to tell you. I really do, but I say just read the book.

I cannot rave enough about this book. I loved Dear Mr. Knightley and I was hopeful Lizzy & Jane would hold up to the stellar review of Ms. Reay’s first book. It has and in a stunning novel. A book that made me want to cry, laugh and plot the ending myself. I seriously thought Lizzy should end up with Paul. Then Trent. And I really like Nick too. There were so many twists to this story, the theme of Jane Austen floating through the story, from food to sisters.  The food alone and descriptions made me want to eat my way through this book. (Ms. Reay, I wish you would have added in all the recipes for this book! Can we say bacon ice cream with maple syrup, anyone?)

This book is seriously within my favorites book. I want to share it with everyone, yet I will not give up my copy, it’s too good.  If you like Jane Austen, or read Katherine Reay’s Dear Mr. Knightley, then you will love this book. Five out of Five stars.

This book was provided to me free through Harper Collins Christian Publishing via BookLookBloggers for my honest review.

Kate

 

 

Fierce Convictions – A Review

_225_350_Book.1404.coverFierce Convictions by Karen Swallow Prior is a marvelous biography of an almost unknown woman in our history.  Hannah More, a British woman born during the mid 1700’s to rather humble beginnings, she grew up with four other sisters to become, like the Bronte sisters, teachers of their own school for young ladies. From teacher to poet to playwright, Hannah More was a devout Christian yet still a major part of what was called the Bluestocking Circle during the later part of the century. Celebrated author, she was part of this elite group of the poets and thinkers of the time. For a while Hannah More was the new darling of the group until the loss of a close friend edged her away from society. At this same time, the subject of the abolition  of slavery came to her interest. She was fortunate to live long enough to see slavery abolished, but over the years her name became tarnished due to new ways of thinking regarding how a woman should act and believe. It is this reason we no longer know much about this remarkable woman.

This is a marvelous biography filled with all kinds of information I never knew and was never taught. I love reading how people are connected and through my various other readings, the name Horace Walpole has come to my attention, a man Hannah was good friends with. I really enjoyed reading this book, but my one complaint would be, it’s long. Not in actual thickness, but more in style. There is a lot of information compressed into this book and it’s not what I would call a fast read. That being said, Ms. Prior’s style is enjoyable to read and I am so glad that I decided to try out this book about an unknown person quite important within our history.  If you like biographies, get it. If you want to read about a woman most of us never knew about, then I also recommend this. I would give it easily 4 out of 5 stars.

Kate

 

 

Love Letters From God: Bible Stories – A Review

91QjaJsWoXLLove Letters from God: Bible Stories by Glenys Nellist, illustrated by Sophie Allsopp, is a collection of short Bible stories for children published by Zonderkidz. Each of the 18 stories has a companion ‘love’ letter to the reader written by “God” hidden under a flap with a charming ‘stamp’ as if it had just been mailed. There is a blank spot to fill in the name of the child for each letter, making this a highly personalized book. There is also one last letter at the end of the book asking the reader to join Jesus’s team and a blank letter for the reader to pen a response to Jesus.

Of the 18 stories, some are classics, like the Creation, Noah, Jonah and the Whale, and the birth of Christ. Then the less ‘popular’ stories such as Samuel, David’s Anointing, the lost sheep, and Zacchaeus. The pages are filled with full page illustrations, that are unique to each story, some having a more photograph feel set in with the drawings. The overall feel of the book is very elegant with heavy pages and a glossy and mat dust jacket. The choice of a turquoise as the main color makes it incredibly soothing in its own way. It’s a very well done book.

I found this book, though, hard to review. I found the premise of the book was creative with the personalized letters to the reader, yet I found each story to be ‘dumbed down’ to the point of being cutesy instead of containing enough depth to really teach anything. Most Bible stories are not what I would call ‘happy’, but Ms. Nellist has made every story exuberant in some way. The story of Noah, while one of my favorite stories, is all about God destroying all but a few people. It’s not about just Noah’s family and the animals in the ark. Nor is it exactly exciting for the lions to be soooooo happy because they are going to get to eat Daniel, in the story of Daniel and the Lion’s Den. I just think there should have been better content in regards to the stories instead of making them so ‘happy’. ( I feel like I should cue Pharrell Williams and his song “Happy”)

That being said, I think many Christian families will enjoy this book. I myself was raised with a more traditional backing where we read the Bible instead of learning the stories from other books. I think that there are methods to Bible stories that make it more simple for a child to understand without making it ‘fun’. For instance, one of the best methods I remember being taught the stories was with large flashcard pictures, that were works of art in themselves, while the story was read. The content wasn’t taken out, but the pictures helped coalesce the whole story. I found this book to be just cute and I wonder if once the stories have been read over it will become old. Also I would say with what I have seen of most children reading books, don’t let your 4-8 year old alone with this. The letters will get torn because there is great care needed in reading this book.

I’d would probably give this book at the most 3 out of 5 stars. And I can honestly say I hate to write more negative reviews.

I was provided this book free for my honest opinion and review from Harper Collins Christian publishing.

Signing off

Kate

The Southern Foodie’s Guide to the Pig – A Review

_240_360_Book.1329.coverSend in the pig! The Southern Foodie’s Guide to the Pig by Chris Chamberlain is a marvelous guide on how to prepare pork , restaurant guide and cookbook.  Cook it, roast it, fry it, smoke it, bake with it, sweets with it; there are millions of ways to use pork and he first part of the book covers the history of Oink (i.e. the pig) how it came to be so popular and how it is properly prepared. From smoking, roasting, and frying, there are directions on whole roasted pig down to the spice rubs and marinades.  The second part of the book covers restaurants  in the south that are famous for unique and delicious ways of serving pork. And the third part of the book are recipes from the restaurants showcased in the second part of the book.  The information is quite vast and the recipes look so delightful with marvelous color pictures. Chris Chamberlain is  known for his other book The Southern Foodie: 100 Places to Eat in the South, and while I’ve not read that particular book, I’m betting this new book is a companion to his first book. This book is meant to be tossed in the glove compartment for restaurant suggestions or it can be in the kitchen for all the recipes.

While I probably won’t be able to get to the South anytime soon, I found this book incredibly informative and rather delightful to read.  I love having detailed guides to cooking and the history and methods of cooking pork in this book cover that quite well. The section on restaurants is so much fun to read and makes me want to visit every one of the places.  In fact I’ve asked Boris to visit one of the restaurants next time he is in Raleigh, North Carolina.  The restaurant is Halcyon, Flavors from the Earth, and I hope to be able to make a follow up review of the restaurant via Boris, at some later date.

I would give this book five stars and I have a feeling David Venable of In The Kitchen with David would approve of this book since he’s already a fan of Chris Chamberlain’s first book.  If you like the pig, then I recommend this book.

Signing off

Kate

Goodnight Ark – A Review

51LYm8I1YXLGoodnight, Ark  By Laura Sassi, illustrated by Jane Chapman must be one of the best modern picture books I have read in quite a while. Laura Sassi tells the tale of Noah and the ark in a sing song rhyme that is incredibly pleasing and something that will charm a child.  The ark is filling up with animals and it’s time for bed…. but when the loud storm scares the animals, they all start ending up in Noah’s bed. Boars, goats, elephants, tigers and even skunks! How will Noah get the animals to calm down and sleep? Maybe a softly crooned song will do the trick!

I cannot express how much I enjoyed this picture book.  I am always on the lookout for a really charming and well written picture book, and this one fits the bill.  Regardless of whether or not it has a ‘Christian’ theme with Noah being the main character, this book is marvelous and any child would enjoy the wonderful rhyming rhythm Laura Sassi has used. Rhyme in any story is incredibly difficult (I know as I write picture books). Making it interesting enough for children is sometimes even harder. Laura Sassi has captured the lovable qualities of animals in this story and the style make you want to read the book over and over. (personally I have always been a fan of the story of Noah and the Ark.)

However, no picture book would be complete without the illustrator. I cannot expound enough about how much I love Jane Chapman‘s illustrations. I was first introduced to her illustrating with Karma Wilson‘s ‘Bear series books’, which I also own and adore. Jane Chapman’s art is incredible to look at with all the intricacies within the illustrations.  The fuzziness of the tiger’s hair, the little things that make you feel like you are on the ark. Food for the animals and even an umbrella for Noah.  I admire her illustrating so much that it was specifically for that reason I chose this book to review. I have said since I found her work, I want her to illustrate one of my picture books.  With Laura’s marvelous rhyme (akin to Karma Wilson’s) and Jane’s endearing illustrations, this is a wonderful picture book.

I would highly recommend this book for any child and I will enjoy reading this book over and over. Five stars and I could continue gushing, but I say, just get the book!

This book was provided to me by Thomas Nelson, Zondervan and Harper Collins Christian Publishing for my honest review.

Signing off

Kate

NIV Gardners Bible – A Review

_240_360_Book.1285.cover“I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses, and the voice I hear falling on my ear The Son of God discloses,” are the words of a famous hymn that goes perfectly with the NIV God’s Word for Gardeners Bible Grow Your Faith While Growing Your Garden contributed by Shelley Cramm.  Take a walk in a garden with God as you meander through the Gardeners Bible, with daily devotions centering on the growth of the spirit. With daily essays on things pertaining to gardens, literally and metaphorically, this bible takes you on a journey of the soul of the gardener. Tending, growing and cultivating the spirit. Each essay, under the themes of Garden Tour, Garden Work and Garden Stories, gives you a verse, or selection of verses, a companion of cross-references and plenty of ‘food for thought’. Taking a year to meander through the Bible, just like a garden, our spiritual life is a constant through the year.

I was quite impressed with the Gardeners Bible. I’m a firm believer that we are stewards of the land and we are called upon to tend the land even though it may not be the Garden of Eden any longer.  Just as we till with our hands, we cultivate our spirit in God’s word. The essays are just right for contemplation, with a very green feel (as in the essay has a lovely green page to separate it out from the rest of the white pages.) The end of each essay tells you where to read the next day and so forth, and there is an index at the back of the Bible for ease of use.  The dust jacket and cover of the book are the same image, which I really like. The Bible has a very crisp and fresh feel, just like being in a garden.  Shelley Cramm uses an exhaustive bibliography, which is cited in her essays; a feature I always love for further reading. If you are a gardener in Christ and want and a supplemental devotional Bible, I highly recommend the Gardeners Bible.

 

This book was provided free of charge from Thomas Nelson and Harper Collins Christian Publishing for my honest review.

Signing off

Kate

The Loving Kitchen – A Review

_225_350_Book.1238.cover

The Loving Kitchen Downright Delicious Southern Recipes to Share with Family, Friends, and Neighbors  By LeAnn Rice…… David Venable, come on down, you’d love this book! Hearty, healthy cooking with a touch of southern love, LeAnn Rice’s book is a joy to read and drool over.  Seven chapters of food groups: breakfast, sandwiches, salads, desserts….etc. and all with clear and concise recipes. Charming with marvelous pictures, this is definitely a nice book to have on the shelf. I really enjoy how there is healthy and decadent recipes, like Almond Coconut Granola and Baked Oatmeal then it goes to Peanut Butter and Jelly French toast and Sugared Bacon (how can you go wrong with that?!!!) Or Brown Rice Pilaf trading into Cheesy Corn Pudding, with cream cheese, mind you. Cream cheese just happens to be LeAnn’s favorite thing. Things that just make you go Oooh and Ahhh. Then, more please.

I can honestly say that I LOVE this book and when I say it is David Venable good, I mean, ‘Happy Dance, Happy Dance’ David.  The food is rich and heart, sweet, savory and healthy. I want to eat everything and then some.  On a side note, this book is not for diabetics or gluten free fans.  Far from it actually when LeAnn’s favorite ingredient is cream cheese! But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fun book to look at. I love cookbooks that you can just sit down and read like any other book, and this one is exactly like that. I love too that LeAnn is a west coaster that moved south, so she still does things like us Westerners do.  The pictures are marvelous and the feel of the book is homey but so nice. I want to cook everything in this book, and probably will over time. I think it would be a marvelous edition to any kitchen. But that’s just my two cents.

Signing off

Kate

Daisies Are Forever – A Review

_240_360_Book.1200.coverDaisies Are Forever  By Liz Tolsma.

It’s 1945 and the Russians are invading Prussia and east Germany. Gisella is living with her Opa and cousin after being sent east to avoid the bombings in Berlin, but now a new danger is hovering on the horizon. For the Russians are brutal as they slowly encroach on German occupied areas. They take no prisoners, leaving death and destruction in their wake.

Gisella is tasked with the difficult challenge of taking her cousin’s two young daughters to Berlin to escape the Russians. She doesn’t want to leave her cousin and grandfather, knowing that she may never see them again, but she must go.

Along the way she travels with family friends, to senile old ladies who are actually quite hilarious because they are constantly thinking that they are in Barcelona or Paris instead of war torn Germany. There is also an injured German soldier who becomes entranced with Gisella and the ‘music’ she creates in his head; two British POW’s who are disguising themselves as SS officers, and a young woman stuck on getting to Hollywood.

From avoiding capture, to Russian pilots shooting at the travelers, to broken down trains, the mismatched band of people make their way to Berlin, all the while, Gisella and one of the British POW’s, Mitch, pretend to be husband and wife as Mitch can’t speak German worth a darn and is bound to be found out.

Once in Berlin, where Gisella is reunited with her Mother, then comes the terror of the day and nightly bombings from the British and the Americans. Mitch and Gisella are slowly falling for each other while the German soldier and the other young woman are bound and determined to break them apart.

Redemption, betrayal and trust are all thrown together as these people await the Russian invasion, which in turn becomes a terror of it’s own.

Will Gisella and Mitch make it? Will they live through the horrors of a bombed out Berlin?

Oh my gosh!  This book was incredible. I was so fearful for Gisella and all the terror of getting out of the Russians path. Then I was just on pins and needles while Kurt, the German soldier was trying to get Gisella for himself. I wanted to jump in and pick a fight with him for Mitch’s sake! The terror of the Russian army was fresh in my mind after watching a special on Berlin and what the aftermath of the Russians in Berlin did to the people. Liz Tolsma captured the fear and the true events that happened during those last days of fierce bombing and Russian invasion.

This is a fast paced book with sweet moments between Mitch and Gisella and moments of anger between Kurt, Gisella and Mitch.  I was so happy with the ending and I am defnitely going to be looking to read Liz Tolsma’s first book.  She took true facts and shaped them into a marvelous story that I highly recommend to anyone who likes a good WWII story.

Five out of five stars.

Signing off

~Kate

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A Note To My Readers Regarding My Book Reviews

I’m sure all of you think by now that I only read Christian books since that is only what I review. On the contrary.  I rarely read Christian books of any sort other than the ones I review, and that is due to a contract I have with Book Look Bloggers a subsidiary of Harper Collins Christian Publishing.  I signed up for their service quite a while ago, IE you can tell by my first book review, and as part of the contract, they send me a book free of charge for my honest review of the book.

It has been interesting delving into more religious based books considering that even though I grew up a Christian, I did not read a lot of Christian based books other than my school books.  And the only books that I read that are Christian based happen to be the ones I review.

When I am reading on my free time, my book choices vary like the market place in Marseille.  I joke that I keep my library in business by ordering the random assortment of books that I’m forever reading.  Recently I’ve been on a Maisie Dobbs theme or anything that deals with WWI and WWII.  I’m reading All Quiet on the Western Front, and I have several other books stacked up in various places I’m reading. In fact, I have way too many books to read. I just recently remembered that I was reading The Forgotten Man… apropos since I forgot it.  I need to start that up again.

I read Janet Dailey‘s Americana series when I’m in a romance mood, or my beloved Emilie Loring‘s, which have also been in my rotation as of late. I read classics, poetry, cookbooks (cookbooks are not meant to cook out of but to read in my opinion), gardening books, how to make wine, the architecture through the ages, essential oils and related.  My tastes are as varied as my music likes….. I was listening to Jason Derulo‘s “Talk Dirty to Me” and One Republic‘s new song on the radio today, grooving along, while a few days ago it was all folk and BroCountry.

So, why do I only write Christian book reviews?  Because I’m too lazy to write any other book review. I have to force the reviews out of me in the first place. I’m just not into the whole ‘book report’ thing. I’m trying. Really hard, because hey, a career in writing book reviews is good, but I just don’t think it’s for me.

So, that’s just what I do.

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Loveology – Book Review

Loveology – God. Love. Marriage. Sex. And the Never-Ending Story of Male and Female By John Mark Comer

Let me start off by saying, any book that has a grey cover with bright pink writing, and the words, love, sex, marriage, and God, is going to catch my attention.  Not to mention pink font inside, bright pink bubbles and just an all around really girly pretty book.  The cover alone makes me want to ‘swoon’ a bit it’s so nice.

Loveology is the theology of love by the pastor of Portland’s A Jesus Church -Bridgetown.  It’s relatively basic biblical theology on the relationships we have with our partner/lover/spouse written in a very comfortable easy, and almost watered down manner.  With background on the original Greek translations, in John Mark Comer’s style (if you ever listen to any of his sermons, you will understand what I mean). Five chapters on Love, Marriage, Sex, Romance, and Male and Female, including a Q and A section, the book is a fast read geared towards young marrieds, singles and dating couples.

Okay, now the gushing will ensue.  I LOVED/LOVE this book.  When I got it after waiting almost three weeks, I just could not put it down because it was so pretty. I mean, this guy, really knew how to appeal to women. This book is just marvelous to hold and run your hand over. It is a really nice size to slip in a bag and you just want to keep reading it.  John Mark Comer is brilliant in getting a more conservative Christian theology across. Without sounding preachy, he really gets you laughing at some of the funnier aspects of love. That being said, you are a Christian and you don’t already know this, then this book won’t help.  It’s a fun thing to read if you already know the theology, but you should already know it if you are reading this. But that’s my own take.

I enjoyed the book immensely, but that being said, I don’t always agree with the ‘watered-down’ take on the bible.  I find John Mark Comer has a great sense of humor and makes you want to read more, but it’s almost incredibly basic.  Maybe it’s because I was raised in a Conservative Baptist church, but this is much more moderate in style.  But on a scale of one to five, I’d give this a five star rating.

This book was provided to me through Harper Collins  for my honest review.

Signing off

~Kate

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