The Made From Scratch Life

Norris, Melissa K. The Made From Scratch Life. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2016.

madefromscratchlife

SUMMARY:
Living in a rural area, author and blogger Melissa Norris lives the more simple, productive, practical, faith-filled way of life. From planting and harvesting her own food, to preserving and baking ingredients and meals, to creating her own care and home products, to raising and sharing livestock, The Made From Scratch Life introduces, encourages and inspires to live a more quiet pace in this often busy way of life.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Interesting as a different way of living, though not entirely possible for me, I did learn quite a few ideas around planting, recipes, natural cleaners and living at a slower pace. Well-written with sections of suggestions sprinkled throughout, I did appreciate some of the items (7 ways to preserve pumpkin, homemade refried beans, strawberry jam, 6 ways to plant green beans) and plan on giving them a try. Complete with charts for planting, preserving and cooking, there are definitely some simple ways to include in a more natural home and lifestyle. Absolutely a book to share or give to someone able/ willing to commit to that more raw lifestyle, I am glad I was given the chance to visit this book.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Made From Scratch Life from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

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Cravings

Teigen, Chrissy. Cravings: Recipes For All The Food You Want To Eat. USA: Clarkson Potter/ Publishers. 2016.

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SUMMARY:
Written by TV host, model and home chef, Chrissy Teigen, the new cookbook Cravings is full of everyday, favorite, hearty meals and recipes. Easy to make, delicious to eat, and fun to share, each included recipe can easily be made from staples in the pantry. Though the recipes may not allow exact nutritional guidelines, each is easily changeable as needed. With a rather Thai-influenced assortment of items, most are preparation-friendly and ready to pass. The accompanying photography of each recipe is appreciated.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Mostly a food-driven cookbook, there are also extra pictures and personal stories from the author as well. Though not quite what I expected (due to not being a follower of Chrissy Teigen), several of the recipes actually were delicious though needed some easily-achieved deviations (less salt, less fat, more raw). Not a diet book but full of tasty meals, this cookbook is sure to be a favorite among many.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Cravings: Recipes For All The Food You Want To Eat from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

Madison Food

Fromm, Nichole. Rasmus, Jonmichael. Madison Food: A History Of Capital Cuisine. Charleston, SC: American Palate. 2015.

madisonfood

SUMMARY:
A useful and resourceful book on the history of Madison cuisine, Madison Food is a well-written, well-researched and well-enjoyed book on food found in the capital city of Wisconsin. From shacks to fine restaurants and every place in-between, authors Nichole Fromm and Jonmichael Rasmus provide a foodie tour of Madison, Wisconsin. Intriguing history, amusing stories, interesting antidotes, delicious suggestions and driving directions all fuse together for a delectable book. Full color pictures, black and white vintage photographs and appendices of eateries grouped by various categories complete the piece.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
For anyone spending a day or merely passing through Madison, Wisconsin, Madison Food is definitely a book to have on-hand. With plenty of available food choices from bakeries, delis, restaurants and markets, ranging from quick, historical, contemporary and cultural, the city of Madison offers something for everyone. Not only did I learn a bit of history within a capital city, I also gleaned some interesting, tasty places to try for lunch. Hopefully part of a series, I certainly will watch for similar types of books while traveling.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Madison Food from The History Press for my honest review*

If I Run

Blackstock, Terri. If I Run. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2016.

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SUMMARY:
Deciding to run rather than be framed for a murder she did not commit, Casey Cox is certain to be scared. Trying hard not to leave any footprints of her direction, Casey doesn’t realize veteran Dylan Robert is almost upon her. While both deal with similar symptoms from their pasts, though only one will win in the end, If I Run sets up the pace perfectly for the characters racing to a finish. Suspense, reality, murder, dysfunction and hope all combine for a thrilling story from New York Times Best-selling author, Terri Blackstock.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
In a unique manner for this author, If I Run shares the unfolding story from a first-person point of view, alternating between the main characters. With a subtle dose of faith mingled between suspense, action, emotions, mystery and a cliff-hanger at the end, Terri Blackstock does an excellent job of keeping the pages turning quickly while investing the reader emotionally. As the first of a new trilogy, the gracious end notes from the author in this book add even more. Compelling cover too!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of If I Run from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

The Bee-friendly Garden

Frey, Kate. LeBuhn, Gretchen. The Bee-friendly Garden: Design an abundant, flower-filled yard that nurtures bees and supports biodiversity. USA: Ten Speed Press. 2016.

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SUMMARY:
With more than 30 percent of our food crops as well as 70 percent of the foods we eat depending and benefiting from bee pollination, all types of bees are vitally important to the earth. Stress, parasites, pesticides, habitat loss, and urban development have all recently led to the loss of our friends, the bees. Through tackling myths and facts, describing the basic needs of bees, detailing their importance and helping to generate and preserve the bees’ environments, authors Kate Frey and Gretch LeBuhn share the importance of healthy gardens full of bee-friendly plants. Complimented by gorgeous photographs of bees and gardens, The Bee-friendly Garden is sure to inspire…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having recently studied the importance of bees and their landscape needs, this beautiful book was perfect as the next step. Along with learning about bee habitats, I also learned quite a bit about all the different types of native bees, from markings and colors to flight patterns (the Honeybee is capable of flying in bad weather due to their ability to shiver and raise their temperature). Not only interesting but so necessary in the preserving of the bee, this book is sure to delight, teach and improve gardens country-wide…I know my front garden will be all the better for it!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Bee-friendly Garden from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

Christmas Star Sapphire

Bridgeman, Hallee. Christmas Star Sapphire: A Novella Inspired by the Jewel Series. Winchester, KY: Olivia Kimbrell Press. 2015.

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SUMMARY:
As kin to the powerful and successful Viscollis Enterprises, Madeline Viscolli is content to earn her graduate degree from a college in Alabama. Meeting a leader in the campus ministry, Joe Westcott, Madeline soon realizes that she and Joe have very different backgrounds, experiences and rules. Through the many trials, Madeline must come to accept that God’s timing may not match her own, especially in her relationship with Joe. With an appropriately titled novella, Christmas Star Sapphire shines brightly with faith, romance and hope…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though never having read any previous books in the Jewel Sapphire collection, I certainly did enjoy and appreciate this novella inspired by that series. Full of faith, misunderstandings, romance, forgiveness and a few surprises, Christmas Star Sapphire is perfect for the season (although I did read it a bit later than the Christmas season). Complete with a reader’s guide and suggested luncheon menu, some of the included recipes were absolutely delicious. Author, homemaker, blogger, chef and coffee lover, Hallee Bridgeman puts God first in her life and hopes to be a blessing to others…such an example!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Christmas Star Sapphire from BookCrash and the author for my honest review*

60 Ways To Lower Your Blood Sugar

Pollock, Dennis. 60 Ways To Lower Your Blood Sugar: Simple Steps to Reduce the Carbs, Shed the Weight, and Feel Great Now! Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 2013.

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SUMMARY:
With the rise in diabetes in America, author Dennis Pollock offers and shares many ideas and ways to control the blood sugar in diets. Not just for those with diabetes but ideal for anyone wishing to lead a more healthy lifestyle, 60 Ways to Lower Your Blood Sugar is full of personal stories, encouragement, advice, healthy recipes and nutritional values. Easy to read, valuable suggestions, a bit of faith and important information combine to help control and balance blood sugar.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a reliable yet perhaps a bit outdated resource, though interesting and informative, I would have preferred an updated version to be released. With constant advancements in medicine, technology and nutritional advice, a more current version (2016) would have been even more welcomed. Overall though, I learned quite a bit from this book, took some of the ideas to apply to my own lifestyle and actually enjoyed some of the included recipes. Definitely something to consider if trying to maintain and monitor blood sugar levels.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of 60 Ways to Lower Your Blood Sugar from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*

All Things Bright And Beautiful

Alexander, Cecil Frances (author). Hudson, Katy (illustrator). All Things Bright And Beautiful. Nashville, TN: Worthy Kids/ Ideals Publishing. 2016.

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SUMMARY:
Discovering all the beauty in God’s delightful world, three small children camp in the great outdoors. Fruits, bugs, water, birds, trees, meadows, night creatures…the Lord God made them all and gave us the eyes and lips to enjoy His creation. Written in the mid 1800’s by an author no longer here on earth and accompanied by gorgeous colorful illustrations from an illustrator very much still alive, this stunning child’s book celebrates the simplicity yet depth of exploring God’s beautiful achievements. To be shared by young and old alike, this gem is truly a masterpiece spanning the decades…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Remarkable! Joining verse written years ago with contemporary pictures, author Cecil Frances Alexander and illustrator Katy Hudson join talents to design a visually pleasing and artistically written story. All Things Bright And Beautiful is perfect to be shared multi-generationally at home, church or Sunday school. With full pages filled with color along side a simple faith stanza, this is such a treasure! Lovely!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of All Things Bright And Beautiful from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Mermaid Moon

Coble, Colleen. Mermaid Moon: A Sunset Cove Novel. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 2016.

mermaidmoon

SUMMARY:
Mallory Davis left her childhood home of Mermaid Point fifteen years ago. Guilt, shame and a broken heart took her to Bangor, Maine, where she made a new home with her teenage daughter. Receiving a call that her father was murdered, Mallory must return home. Obviously in the path of danger, Mallory turns to local game warden, Kevin O’Connor, for help. Still hurt over the way Mallory left town all those years ago, Kevin agrees to help with the investigation but also needs answers while his heart ponders the future…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Full of suspense, romance, twists, and a revolving plot, author Colleen Coble writes a thrilling second novel in her Sunset Cove series. Though not necessarily related, each book could stand alone yet some of the characters reappear in this story. Infused with faith, emotions and beautiful descriptions, Mermaid Moon is definitely a welcomed continuation in the series from a talented author. With the next book already in process for fall of 2016, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, I know it will be on my have-to-read list.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Mermaid Moon from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Healthy Fats, Low-Cholesterol Cookbook

American Heart Association. Healthy Fats, Low-Cholesterol Cookbook: Delicious Recipes To Help Reduce Bad Fats And Lower Your Cholesterol. New York, NY: Harmony Books. 2015.

healthyfatslowcholesterolcookbook

SUMMARY:
Revised and updated with 50 new recipes, Healthy Fats, Low-Cholesterol Cookbook is the ideal book to help manage weight, gain a perspective on portion control, learn about ingredient guidelines, and create a healthier lifestyle with the included 200 recipes focused on fat and cholesterol content. With a brief introduction to each recipe, an ingredient list, cooking directions and nutritional values, recipes consist of snacks, beverages, salads, meat, seafood, sides, breakfasts and even desserts. Cooking tips, healthy shopping strategies, recipe adaptations, pantry ideas, and risk factors for heart disease and stroke round out this healthy cookbook.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As the perfect companion to the heart-healthy month of February, Healthy Fats, Low-Cholesterol Cookbook denies any excuses for not learning about the risk factors, taking charge of actions, and living a healthier lifestyle all while eating deliciously and healthy. With recipes such as a healthy Taco Salad, Chilled Asparagus Soup, Slow Cooker Pepper Steak and Cherry Pear Turnovers, most items are available in the local supermarket, the directions are straightforward and the results are nutritious and delicious. Definitely a cookbook worth considering, it is sure to be one I will use often. Nothing fancy yet so very hearty, healthy and appetizing.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Healthy Fats, Low-Cholesterol Cookbook from Blogging For Books for my honest review*