Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Witch Hunter

The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker, narrated by Nicola Barber (Amazon, Goodreads, Audible)
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Adventure
ISBN: 031632700X
Published June 2nd 2015 by Hachette Audio
Rating: 4.5

From Goodreads:

The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.
Your greatest enemy isn't what you fight, but what you fear.
Elizabeth Grey is one of the king's best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she's accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.
Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that's been laid upon him.
But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth's witch hunting past--if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she's thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.
Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.

The Witch Hunter brought me back to my first year of discovering the YA genre, when I was craving an adventure, compelling set of characters, a brave strong heroine, and a sweet romance. I loved this book. I especially liked seeing a strong-willed confident woman fighting for what she believes… and when she is shown—lovingly, gently—of how wrong she is, turns around to fight for what she knows is right. Beautifully written, full of adventure and excitement and very hard choices, The Witch Hunter is the great start of an awesome new series!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

White Crocodile

White Crocodile by K.T.Medina (Amazon, Goodreads)
Genre: Thriller, Crime
ISBN: 9781478927822
Published June 30th 2015 by Little, Brown & Company (first published August 5th 2014)
Rating: 3.5

From Goodreads:

An atmospheric debut thriller in which a woman must hunt down the ferocious killer responsible for her husband's murder.

Tess Hardy thought she had put Luke, her violent ex-husband, firmly in her past. Then he calls from Cambodia, where he is working as a mine-clearer, and there's something in his voice she hasn't heard before: Fear. Two weeks later, he's dead.
Against her better judgment, Tess is drawn to Cambodia and to the killing fields. Keeping her relationship to Luke a closely guarded secret, Tess joins his team of mine clearers, who are shaken to the core by Luke's sudden death. Even in their grief, the group remains a tightly knit and tightly wound community in which almost everyone has something to hide.
At the same time, the circle of death begins to expand. Teenage mothers are disappearing from villages around the minefields, while others are being found mutilated and murdered, their babies abandoned. Everywhere there are whispers about the White Crocodile, a mythical beast that brings death to all who meet it. Caught in a web of secrets and lies, Tess must unravel the truth, and quickly. The crocodile is watching, and Tess may be its next victim.
Combining the technical expertise of military suspense with a richly drawn sense of place, White Crocodile forges new ground in the thriller genre. Medina's internationally acclaimed debut announces the arrival of a prodigiously talented novelist whom readers will be discussing for years to come.

White Crocodile was a book that surprised me. At first I was only interested because of the idea of mine clearers. Then there was an explosion. Then I got to know the characters a little more. It was fair paced but not as fast as I’d have liked. About halfway I began to get really curious about the plot, and then it started getting fast and surprising me at every turn. From there it didn’t let go. I feel like it could have started stronger (especially considering how good the ending was). The narration was good except every once in a while a line was so quiet I could barely hear it. All in all it was a very nice listening experience for a crime novel with a really exciting surprising ending.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

One-Skein Wonders for Babies!

One-skein Wonders for Babies: 101 knitting projects for infants and toddlers Edited by Judith Durant (Amazon, Goodreads)
Genre: knitting
ISBN: 9781612124803
Published: September 8th 2015 by Storey Publishing, LLC
Rating: 4

I love babies. I love the One-skein wonders series. So it’s natural that I would love this book.

I love knitting and crocheting but I’m not the most patient long-term project minded person. I also really like pictures. Generally I decide what to make (knit, sew, cook) based on the picture. That’s one thing I really like about this book: all the patterns have at least one picture (usually more) plus diagrams! I also really like the page-layout and the color-blocks.

This is perfect for anyone who wants a quick project for a precious little one.

From Goodreads: This irresistible collection offers 101 original knitting projects for babies and toddlers -- each using just a single skein of yarn! From mittens and hats to tees, sweaters, hoodies, pants, dresses, socks, and bootees, you'll find the perfect wearable for every child and every occasion. You'll also discover beautiful bibs, blankets, and sleep sacks, plus adorable stuffed toys, blanket buddies, and more. These beautiful projects were contributed by designers and crafters around the world, and each comes with complete step-by-step instructions and a photograph of the finished piece.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Review: Feed Your Athlete

Feed Your Athlete: A Cookbook to Fuel Your Performance by Michael Kirtsos and Joseph Ewing (Amazon, Goodreads)
Genre: Cookbook, Health
ISBN: 9781465435378
Published: June 2nd 2015 by DK
Rating: 5

I am extremely impressed by this book. The sheer amount of work that went into making this such a valuable tool will, I hope, bounce back to benefit many people.

This is not just a cookbook. This is a reference book. The book starts with a rundown of the different kinds of athletes and their specific dietary needs (with constant reminder that everyone is different and you should check with your doctor or dietician to confirm diet changes). Then it provides practical's on how to meet those needs. Not just recipes (that are all divided up by high or low fiber, low fat, high carb, and high protein) but also meal plans, detailed appendix, water replacement recipes, recovery meals and drinks, and even athlete-friendly deserts. It covers how to determine how many calories you need, how to balance your energy, measure your BMI and BFP, and eating for each stage of training, up through recovery from a performance or event.

The recipes themselves are detailed and easy to follow, and most of them fall into the Easy category (which automatically gives it a plus). It includes a rundown of the categories, prep time, ingredients, yield, make ahead and freeze plans, substitutions in case you want to make it gluten-free or vegetarian, and the breakdown of nutrition information.

There were a few recipes, mostly baking recipes like muffins and breads, that I thought could have used less sugar. There are lots of ways to substitute sugar, oil, and eggs by using things like avocado, apple sauce, peanut butter, honey, agave, etc. and I thought there could have been more of that happening. There were a few drinks that seemed like they had too much sugar in them as well. Sugar really is an athlete’s poison (actually it’s everyone’s poison). And honestly I don’t see how a fudge pop with pudding and whipped topping as the only ingredients belong in a healthy athlete cookbook. But even including those few recipes, this book still blew me away. It should be a staple in every health-conscious home, and every athlete’s shelf.

From Goodreads: Feed Your Athlete features 150 nourishing whole-food meals and snacks for training, competition, and recovery for both endurance and strength athletes, plus fast and easy preparation tips and nutritional information. Athletes know how important it is to get the right fuel for their workouts and events. Feed Your Athlete makes it simple to fuel yourself or your athlete before, during, and after sporting events and training with 150 all-natural, real-food recipes for meals, snacks, portables, sports drinks, and more. Icons and assessments help determine optimal nutrition for any type of sport, and include high-carb, high-protein, low-calorie, low-fat, or high- or low-fiber options.
Created for endurance and strength athletes (but great for athletes of all kinds), Feed Your Athlete shows how to cook easy meals and take-alongs that taste good — and make active bodies feel great by delivering the fuel that they need to perform at their peak.

Einkorn

Einkorn: Recipes for Nature’s Original Wheat by Carla Bartolucci (Amazon, Goodreads)
Genre: Cookbook
ISBN: 978-0804186476
Published: August 4th 2015 by Clarkson Potter
Rating: 4.5

The idea of Einkorn is that there is a wheat out there that has not been genetically modified. It hasn’t been modified because it has a smaller yield and the berries are fairly small. It was left alone while other forms of wheat were played with and changed. The idea is because it hasn’t been played with and changed, people who are gluten intolerant can eat it with no problem because it has a different chemical reaction than regular wheat does.

It’s definitely an intriguing concept. I am not gluten intolerant, and I didn’t know where to get said wheat since that is literally the only thing the book didn’t cover. It covered sprouting, rolling, grinding, processing, every type of cooking process you can imagine. It included a history of wheat, how she and her husband found out about Einkorn, and about the amazing changes in their health after they started using it. But not where to get it. So that was a bit of a letdown, and is the only reason this baby didn’t get 5 stars from me. I did find it available online on amazon so it’s not like it’s impossible to buy. I was just surprised the book didn’t have a specific source listed.

the recipes were vast and diverse: Breads and Crackers, quick breads, breakfast, cookies, pastries, pudding, pizza, pasta, street food, and more. Almost every recipe had a full page beautiful photograph to go with it. The recipes ranged from basic to complicated but they all looked delicious.

Even if I never get my hands on Einkorn wheat berries, I look forward to using this cookbook on a regular basis!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Review: Secrets of a Proverbs 31 Woman

31 Woman by Rae Simmons (Amazon, Goodreads)
Genre: Spiritual Wisdom
ISBN 9781630588618
Published April 1st 2015 by Barbour Books
Rating: 5

I really like this book. I would buy this book for me, or for a friend. I’d keep a copy in my car to hand out to someone I though needed it. I’d recommend it to any woman who has been told she should “be above rubies” and should mirror a P.31 woman, but never given a practical to-do list on how to make that happen.

I mean, real Godly women wouldn’t need that to-do list, right? They would just know. They would read the Bible and just understand without help.

Nope. I’m a “to-do list” kind of girl!

This book was awesome. It goes through the history and background of specific words, how illustrations used in the Bible translates to our day and age, and what that means for us. It was beautiful and, most importantly, encouraging.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Review: Upcycle Your Wardrobe

Upcycle your Wardrobe: 21 patterns… by Mia Fher
Genre: Craft and Sewing
ISBN: 9780764348495
Published July 28th 2015 by Schiffer Publishing Ltd
Rating: 2

There is upcycling, and there is “taking boring clothes and making them into other boring clothes that fit you better but are still totally boring.” This book basically the latter claiming to be the former, with the exception of two (out of 21) designs that I really like... that being said, they’re things I’ve seen on the internet before. I gave it a 2 not a 1 because the step-by-step and the photos were very good.

Don’t waste your time and money, there are better projects on Pinterest.

Review: Knit the Sky

Knit the Sky by Lea Redmond (Amazon, Goodreads, Book site)
Genre: craft, knit/crochet
ISBN: 9781612123332
Expected publication: August 25th 2015 by Storey Publishing, LLC
Rating: 4

Knit the sky was whimsical and exciting. The book is quite different from the traditional knitting book, in that it doesn’t give step-by-step instructions, specific patterns, or have photos. Instead, it has colorful watercolor illustrations and beautiful inspiring text that paints a picture in the mind and leads the knitter to the place the writer wants them to be. The idea of giving inspiration for a project but not a specific pattern was challenging and new to say the least… but it worked for the book. It can be for a beginner knitter who wants the freedom to explore and not fit themselves into a pattern (just to grow as an artist) or for a free-former like myself, who doesn’t really follow patterns anyway and just wants the basic idea, or for an advanced knitter or pattern maker ready to push their creativity to the next level. It would even work for a crocheter (since most of it is make-up-as-you-go anyway).

I love it and am looking forward to making my own beautiful project! check back in a few weeks to see what I’ve made!

From Goodreads:

Look up from your knitting needles and explore with the world around you! That's the mantra of Lea Redmond, the creative instigator behind Knit the Sky. Challenging herself to capture the changing colors of the sky in her knitting, Redmond loaded up her yarn basket with shades of blue, gray, and white and set out to knit a strip reflecting each day's shades. In 365 days, she imagines having a one-year weather report in the shape of a scarf. This is just one of 30 adventurous knitting challenges she shares with readers in this whimsical, inspiring collection. These are knitting projects like no other, as the goal is not just to have a finished project but to have a one-of-a-kind piece that tells a story about the knitter's life experience. Some of the projects invite the knitter to engage with others: friends knitting two scarves at once on the same needles, or a grandmother sharing a "basket of berries" with her grandchildren through matching basketweave-patterned hats. Others encourage contemplation: a knit 1, breathe 1 meditation stitch; creating an heirloom scarf for a yet-to-be descendent; or using a map to a favorite place as the basis for a pattern stitch. Accompanied by basic instructions for all the needed stitches, techniques, and patterns, Knit the Sky is a complete creativity starter kit for any knitter looking for a fresh approach to the craft.

Check out the Knit the Sky website to download a free pattern from the book!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Quick Crocheted Accessories

Quick Crocheted Accessories in 3 skeins or less by Sharon Zientara (Amazon, Goodreads)
Genre: Craft, crochet
ISBN: 9781620337981
Published July 1st 2015 by Interweave
Rating: 3

When I look for a pattern book, I look for something that has a lot of patterns that I’ve never seen before, or wouldn’t not think up on my own (since I’m a bit of a free-former and pattern-maker myself). The books I’m really impressed with are the ones that are full of original pieces that strike me, but look do-able and manageable. Now I realize that’s a pretty high bar to set. But as a reviewer and a crocheter, I wouldn’t spend money on a book that was anything less than that.

Quick Crocheted Accessories has two patterns that I really like and was impressed with, that I haven’t seen before. There were three others that I’d seen similar things, but I really liked Zientara’s design. All the others were relatively simple, unexciting, or things I’ve seen before.

The photos were very nice, and the book has both diagrams and instructions. But I would have liked to see more original accessories.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Mountain Can Wait

The Mountain Can Wait by Sarah Leipciger 
Genre: Literary Fiction
ISBN: 9781478985945
Published May 19th 2015 by Little, Brown & Company
Rating: DNF

I felt like this book was going to be an epic journey of self discovery and redeeming family and resolving past mistakes, but it was more like reading the journal of a boring person. A person with an interesting life, mind you, but the person himself was boring. I can’t even remember the main character’s name. It felt disconnected and random, jumping around and telling snapshots and things that happened, but no real plot. A bunch of things does not equal plot.

I felt this way the first time I tried listening to it, and so I put it down. Then one Saturday I was bored so I tried again and I got the same vibe, so I quit. I got about 6 or 8 chapters in.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Stitch it Simple

Review: Stitch it Simple by Beth Sheard (Amazon, Goodreads, Author)
Genre: Craft, Sewing
ISBN: 9781627107594
Publish: October 14th 2014 by Taunton Press
Rating: 5

Stitch it simple is one of those rare books where I like every single pattern. I mean really, how can you not love a stuffed cat door stop, or felt slippers, or adorable elephants hanging down? The patterns range from small décor (stuffed butterfly, an Owl card) to large, (purses, window panels, cushions)

One thing I really like is a lot of the patterns have little “alternate patterns,” with a variation on the pattern. For instance the bird table-runner has a variation to make it into a placemat. The Owl card has an alternate Owl Tote bag you can make.

All the photographs are beautiful, and it has detailed drawings and diagrams on the techniques. This book would be awesome for people who want one book and lots of projects that will get them started sewing for the home.

Check back next week to see what I made!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Get Your Bake On

Get your Bake On: Sweet and Savory Recipes from my home to yours by Brian Emmett (Amazon, Goodreads, Author’s Site)
Genre: Cookbook Cover.Final
ISBN: 9781476772561
Published May 26th 2015 by Gallery Books (first published April 28th 2015)
Rating: 4/5

I flipped through GYBO and wanted to jump up and down I was so excited about all the amazing recipes. Cheese and Chive soufflés? Blueberry Almond scones? Banana Tea bead, Tomato tart… So many cool things.

I feel like this book was made for me because one of the things Emmett said about his baking was he liked sweet items, but he also liked to take traditionally sweet things and make them savory: for example, the Savory Bacon Cheddar Chive scones sound awesome and are totally on my “to-bake” list (what, you don’t have a to-bake list? what’s wrong with you?) and Salted Peanut Cookies? Why didn’t I think of that?

The instructions are very reader friends and clear, and you don’t have to be an experienced baker to follow the directions (though you have to have serious patience and lots of time to make the traditional Croissants. Like seriously? Who ever thought that process up?).

The only reason this book isn’t 5 stars is because there are only a few pictures. in the middle of the book is a photo section where some of Emmett’s recipes are beautifully and colorfully photographed. And I totally understand how expensive and time consuming it would be to photograph ever. single. recipe. But I’m a visual person. I flip through photos and decide what to make on the photos, not the titles of the recipes.

However, even without every recipe being shown, they all sound great, and was really excited about using this book.

150717_0001The recipe I tried was the Blueberry Almond scones. I didn’t have lemon juice for the glaze, so I made a vanilla-almond glaze with butter and cream, and I used gluten free flour (because I was making breakfast for a GF friend). I also miss-read the amount of almonds I was supposed to use, and ended up using double the amount. But they turned out phenomenal. Ugly, since I don’t have a rolling pin and I didn’t have any flour to dust the cutting board. Also I only have one cookie sheet so I used some muffin tins– they sort of turned into “drop scones”—but they were delish.

(I forgot to take a photo of the finished product… but here is a shot of my ugly scones in the oven…)

This book is totally on my favorite cookbook list and I will absolutely use more of these recipes.

About Brian Emmett

BrianEmmett

Cook up some delicious, down-home goodness with this cookbook of more than seventy-five sweet and savory recipes from Brian Emmett, grand prize winner of CBS’s The American Baking Competition.

In 2013, Brian Emmett burst onto the culinary scene with his charm, confidence, and superior baking and cooking skills on season one of The American Baking Competition. He won over the hearts of Americans nationwide, who watched this enthusiastic husband and father immerse himself in his passion—and, ultimately, take home the illustrious title of “Top Amateur Baker.”

Now, in Get Your Bake On, Brian shares over seventy-five recipes that leave no doubt as to why he was crowned champion on the show. This cookbook encompasses a hearty mixture of The American Baking Competition favorites, brand-new concoctions, and Emmett family recipes passed down through generations. Staying true to the show’s theme, there are plenty of sweets: From miniature tarts to his famous Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookie, Brian’s baked goods are sure to satisfy even the most demanding of sweet tooths. But Get Your Bake On also features a strong savory element with classic, feel-good recipes such as Sunday Brunch Strada and Beef Chili with Buttermilk Cornbread.

So grab a spoon, America—Brian’s back, and he’s ready to dish!

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