Monday, July 11, 2016

Pure Delicious by Heather Christo

My son and I both have food allergies/intolerances. I have learned to make quite a few different dishes that we all like that accommodate our allergies but I know we can always use more recipes. Pure Delicious by Heather Christo offers more than 150 allergen-free recipes without gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, or cane sugar.

The first five chapters of Pure Delicious shares Christo's family's story of testing, discovering and working with their food allergies/intolerances. She shares their process and how much better they all felt after they made dietary changes. My son and I went through a similar process with testing and elimination diets. I especially like that she shares how to build a community of support here and how to support the kids in eating for their best health. Christo also offers tips for eating out and ordering in various kinds of restaurants.

The recipe section of Pure Delicious is divided into categories: soups and chilis. salads, appetizers, sides, baked goods, pizza and burgers, pasta, main dishes,m desserts, and breakfast. There is a fantastic index and it is very easy to find recipes in it. Pure Delicious has beautiful full color photos that go along with nearly every recipe. I love it when my cookbooks have pictures. In this case, it helped both my son and I choose recipes we thought he would like. Several recipes caught our eye right away: Mulligatawny Soup, Gluten free Flatbread, Chicken Teriyaki, Beef Stew, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, Pia's Famous Chocolate Brownie Mug Cake, and Chocolate Dipped Coconut Ice Pops.

I would recommend this book to anyone learning about food allergies/sensitivities. The Elimination Diet offers a lot of good advice and the recipes really look good. I can't wait to try some.

 I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

About the Author (from the publisher)
As a chef, former caterer, and much-loved food blogger, Heather Christo’s life revolves around food, so when she and her daughters were diagnosed with severe food allergies, she thought her life—and career—were over. With ingredients like gluten, dairy, nuts, and even cane sugar and black pepper permanently off the menu, Heather had to teach herself to cook all over again. Much to her surprise, however, she discovered that taking control of her family’s diet and wellness led to a new sense of empowerment, bringing her family closer together than ever before while permanently banishing the ill health that had been their “normal” for years.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Second Half by Lauraine Snelling

Retirement is a stage of life most of us dream about through the years. We save up and think about doing all of our favorite things with lots of "free" time. In The Second Half by Lauraine Snelling Mona and Kenneth Sorenson are in their retirement years. . .dreaming about traveling and spending time doing all of their favorite things. Kenneth is only days away from retirement when the book begins. Meanwhile, Mona is working at and dreaming of managing her own part-time event business while traveling with Kenneth to dreamed-of places on the side.

Then suddenly their life changes. Mona and Ken's son, Steig, who is in the special forces with the army receives a call for deployment. Since his wife walked out on him and his children awhile back, he asks his parents to assume guardianship while he is gone on the mission. From that point on, Mona and Ken have a new set of adventures.

In The Second Half, Mona and Ken learn how to deal with the curves that life has thrown at them and embrace retirement in an entirely different way than they anticipated in more ways than one. Lauraine Snelling writes a book that I imagine many mature adults can relate to. This would be a good book to read and discuss together for a book club, church discussion group for older couples, or even as a married couple looking ahead to retirement. In the back The Second Half, there is a list of questions for a book discussion group that could offer insights to issues mature adults face as they look towards retirement. While I am not at that age yet, I could see where these issues are important to look at and think about. As a Christian, I like that the main characters, Mona and Ken, are also Christians and share how they look to God for answers in the midst of life's challenges. We can all learn from that kind of example. I also think Snelling writes about life in a realistic way that makes it easy to relate to various issues and aspects of the story no matter what your age.

I received this book from Faith Words/Hachette Book Group. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for the book.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

God Bless America: A Patriotic Coloring Book Review

Just in time for the Fourth of July, God Bless America patriotic coloring book was released. It is a beautiful book to color and relax with. It is nicely designed with a tight binding and heavy pages for coloring--on just one side of the page. The back side of the page tells about the designer and the patriotic design that is featured for coloring.

I especially like the fact that the God Bless America pictures are a mix of designs that require varied amounts of coloring and work. Some have a lot of tiny detail, while other pictures have larger areas to color. All of them have beautiful words of faith in God and country to focus on as you color. I also enjoyed the introduction page that shares why the publisher created this coloring book and how you can maximize your use  of this book to relax and spend time with God.

The publisher, Multnomah, has also created a playlist called Coloring America on
Spotify with songs designed to enhance your experience as your color in the God Bless America book. I easily found it on the Spotify app and was able to listen and color. This book is more than a coloring book, it is a patriotic creative package. It all feels well thought out and put together in this fabulous coloring book. I know it will be one of my new favorites and I think it would be for anyone who enjoys the adult coloring hobby.

This one was lightly colored with colored pencils.

This picture was colored with markers. . .and no bleed through.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for the book.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Berenstain Bears' Caring and Sharing Treasury by Jan and Mike Berenstain

The Berenstain Bears have been a favorite in our family through the years. The Berenstain Bears' Caring and Sharing Treasury is five books in one: Jobs Around Town, Get Involved, Love Their Neighbors, Gossip Gang and The Biggest Brag. These books are all part of the Living Lights series which are designed to help children learn how God wants them to live daily. There are references to God in each story and there are Bible verses that go along with the stories too.

Each story is well told and geared to ages 4 to 8. I especially like that this nice treasury has a section in the back of the book to use with children as you read the stories. Each book has a "Talk About it" section with questions to discuss for each book. Then there is a "Get Out and Do it" section which offers ideas to help kids with applying the principles in the book they just read or heard. This book is a nicely bound hardcover and would last for a few generations I think even with regular reading use. It would also make a nice gift for a family besides being a book to use for your own family's reading times. The stories all contain life lessons and morals to help the whole family live a better life if the lessons are applied. I know they were a good reminder for our family.

I received this book from the publisher, Zonderkidz. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for the book.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Giddy Up, Eunice: Because Women need Each Other by Sophie Hudson

As women in our modern world, we need to be there for each other. Giddy Up, Eunice is a book about how we can support each other as women across generational lines. I love that idea. I sometimes wish I had been born in a different era because I think many women don't have a lot of personal in-contact support these days in the midst of all of our social media options. In this book, Sophie Hudson shares how we can still connect personally with the women of all ages in the midst of our busy modern lives.

The first section of Giddy Up, Eunice shares the Bible story of Mary and Elizabeth and how they supported one another through their pregnancies even though there was a huge age difference. The second section of the book is based on the relationships of Ruth and Naomi from the Bible and how they supported each other through challenges and change. The third section relates to Lois and Eunice from the book of 2 Timothy and how women in all ages groups can support each other and to help raise up new generations of godly young people. All of these sections help the reader to relate those Biblical women's relationships to the women in your life today.

 I have to be honest and say it took me a little bit to get into Giddy Up, Eunice. I have not read Sophie Hudson's previous books nor have I read her Boo Mama blog. To start with, I struggled with her writing style and her many references to television shows. I don't watch much TV so I wasn't always sure what she was talking about when she referred to some TV shows. Some of her slang was also difficult for me to relate to. If you are a younger reader and watch TV more than I do, this may not bother you. Or maybe it is because I am from the Midwest and Sophie is a Southern gal. However, having said that, the more that I read this book, the more I liked it. She does have a lot of good advice and analogies to relate to helping women relate to each other today no matter what their age, stage in life or geographical location is. I would recommend it for those reasons. There is not a list of study questions in this book, but it would still be a good book for a women's study to discuss together.

I received this book from Broadman and Holman. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for the book.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Broth and Stock from the Nourished Kitchen by Jennifer McGruther

I make a lot of homemade soups during the winter months. I also have been interested in making more healthy broths for drinking. Broth and Stock by Jennifer McGruther of the Nourished Kitchen website sounded like the best of both of those interests.

Broth and Stock starts out with some interesting history on the making of broth in the introduction and first chapter, "the broth maker's kitchen." Both sections were worth taking the time to read before jumping in to make the recipes. I learned several new historical tidbits and helpful tips.  McGruther explains the difference between broth, stock and bone broth in case you weren't sure what the difference was. McGruther furthers offers advice on selecting the type of bones and other ingredients you want for your stocks/broths and where to purchase them. The first chapter also offer good advice on the type of equipment needed to cook with and how to best store your homemade broth. I found a lot of good information here, especially for a beginner cook. While I knew a lot of the equipment information, I thought it would be helpful to some people. One thing I did not know was that I could dehydrate my own stock powder for future use and found that how-to information to be especially helpful to me.

McGruther follows that chapter offering general information with chapters on making master broths and stocks, poultry, meat (beef and pork), fish and vegetables. Along with making the delicious broth recipes that McGruther shares in Broth and Stock, she also includes several other recipes using the broths/stocks: Irish vegetable soup, New England Clam Chowder, Turkey soup with root vegetables and wild rice, quick pho, black bean soup and salisbury steak with mushroom sauce. I have several recipes in mind that I want to try. I can see me using this cookbook a lot next fall/winter.

I thought the recipes in Broth and Stock looked easy to follow. McGruther shares that one needs patience to make good stock as it does take time. While I know that is true, it certainly doesn't look hard to follow the recipes she includes. I would like to have my own broth on hand rather than buying store bought broth as a base for my homemade soups. Even being self-taught in making broths on my own, I know those tasted better to my family than much of what we have bought in the store. I believe this book will help my soups taste even better. I also liked that there were good photographs to go along with the recipes. I would recommend Broth and Stock to anyone looking to make their own broths, stocks and soups. It could even be a nice wedding gift  for those you know who like to cook, along with a few of the kitchen items needed to make homemade broth and stock.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

About the Author

Jennifer McGruther is a food educator, the creator of the award-winning traditional foods website, Nourished Kitchen ( and the author of The Nourished Kitchen. She teaches workshops on traditional foods, fermentation, as well as food activism. Jennifer lives with her husband and
son in Washington State.

The Dog that Whispered by Jim Kraus

Wilson Steele is a college professor who seems to be a bit of a curmudgeon when The Dog That Whispered begins. His mother,  Gretna, who lives in a nearby retirement complex also seems to be a bit grumpy in personality. Then Gretna adopts Thurman. Thurman is a rescued black lab mix that Gretna sees on a TV ad and decides to adopt him. Only after she adopts Thurman, she finds out she is not allowed to have pets at the complex, so she talks Wilson into taking Thurman.

I don't want to give any of the plot away. However, I would say that I found The Dog That Whispered to be a pleasant read. I appropriately read this book over Memorial Day weekend and I gained insight into what war veterans may face in their minds when they return to the United States. I also appreciated how the author helped bring faith into the character's lives and helped them see the healing grace of God. Sometimes people who may appear grumpy face challenges that we know nothing about. As this book continued on, I found myself truly liking the characters and pulling for them.

This book has a great list of questions in the back to think about on your own, or better yet, to use with a reading group to discuss the book. I found the questions insightful to the story and making it relevant to the reader's life.

The Dog that Whispered is the first book that I have read by Jim Kraus. I plan to get a copy of his previous books as I enjoyed this one so much. I have to add that I love the dog in this cover illustration; he does look like he has something to say and is such a good fit for Thurman.

I received this book from Faith Words. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for the book.