Sunday, June 28, 2015

Real Food for Everyone: Vegan-Friendly and Vegetarian Meals for Meat Lover, Vegetarians and Vegans by Ann Gentry

Book: Real Food for Everyone: Vegan-Friendly and Vegetarian Meals for Meat Lover, Vegetarians and Vegans

Author: Ann Gentry

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Ms. Gentry offers more than 100 recipes to satisfy all eaters whether one is vegetarian or non vegetarian.

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: As a newbie, who is slowly working towards more of  a vegetarian lifestyle, I loved this cookbook. Even as a non-vegetarian, I found there were recipes that would apply to me or that I would make. I couldn't get enough of the soup and salads sections and found myself hanging out there most in all the book.

As one who is learning this lifestyle, I found her explanations and descriptions on the use of ingredients to be incredibly helpful. On that note, I would have liked to have seen more photos used especially because this book includes a target audience who might not be familiar with how some ingredients are prepared.

Unfortunately, and I apologize for this, I was unable to grab some of the recipe titles prior to my copy expiring.

I agree with another Goodreads' reviewer who stated that the author took more of an educational approach to teaching about vegetarianism versus a judgmental approach to those who eat meat. I felt it really opened me up to what she was saying.

Source: Netgalley for Publisher

Would I recommend? : Yes. Plus, I will be purchasing this cookbook.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Dinner Solved! 100 Ingenious Recipes that Make the Whole Family Happy, Including You.

Be sure to watch The Pub and Grub Forum closer to the publication date for tested recipes from this cookbook.

Book: Dinner Solved: 100 Ingenious Recipes that Make the Whole Family Happy, Including You!

Author: Katie Workman

Release date (if applicable): August 11, 2015

Synopsis: Ms. Workman presents a collection of recipes that are based on a standard, basic recipe with a variety of additional ingredients to give a nice twist from the same old, same old.

Recipes include:
  • Fish and Shrimp Tacos
  • Hummus
  • Oven Fried (Spicy and Non Spicy) Chicken
  • Pasta Selections
  • Breakfast Wraps
  • Vegetarian

My rating: 5 stars

My opinion: I loved this ingenious cookbook. I will admit that I was skeptical when I signed up to review it, but found the book to be awesome. There was a nice variety of recipes from very light to heavier dinner ideas. While she had several recipes that were just basic recipes, the majority of recipes in the book offered different twists/combinations.

Bright, colorful photos accompanied the recipes giving cooks an idea of what the end product should look like. Even the most novice of cooks and kidlets could pick this book up and prepare the recipes they were that simple.

Even though my focus lately has been cooking for two, I pre-ordered this cookbook. The recipes were enticing and looked as though they would halve easily.

 Source: Netgalley for Publisher

Would I recommend? : Very much so. In fact, just recommended to a number of my friends.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand alone

Be sure to watch The Pub and Grub Forum closer to the publication date for tested recipes from this cookbook.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Witch of Painted Sorrows: A Novel by MJ Rose

Book: The Witch of Painted Sorrows

Author: MJ Rose

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: It is the 1880's and Sandrine Salome flees to her courtesan grandmother's home in Paris to escape her abusive husband. It is here that she finds a passion for the art movement of Paris that she is a natural for, as well as her new lover, the engaged Julien DuPlessi. When she becomes possessed by a witch/courtesan from the 1600's, has what she escaped into even more dangerous than her husband?

My rating: 3 stars

My opinion: I must say that this Is not my favorite novel by this dynamic author. While it still had her high quality writing, it still felt as though something was missing. I didn't find it as dark as some of my favorite titles/series of hers. I have to admit that the art focus lost my interest as well.

More than likely I will not continue on with this series, but would still recommend it to readers asking.

Source: Publisher through Netgalley

Would I recommend? : Yes

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: First in series

The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid

Book: The Skeleton Road

Author: Val McDermid

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Skeletal remains are found in a construction site of a torn down, soon to be luxury high rise apartments in Edinburg. Whose are they and do they have anything to do with the Balkans war crimes? DCI Karen Pirie must find out.

My rating: 4 stars

My opinion: It has been six years since Ms. McDermid last published a Inspector Karen Pirie novel. I had forgotten a chunk of the backstory to this series. While this book was excellent, I wouldn't say that it is my favorite in the series.

That didn't stop me from loving it though. This was my favorite Val McDermid book in a very long time. The book was intelligently written and laid out. It engaged me quickly with the deep story line. It contains Ms. McDermid's typical high quality writing with superb character and setting development.  

While this story does have some violence to it, it is definitely tamer than her Tony Hill/Wire in the Blood series. I must admit that I still do prefer that series over her Karen Pirie series, but I am twisted like that.

Source: Netgalley for Publisher

Would I recommend? : Yes

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Third in series.

The Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel

Book: The Murder Farm

Author: Andrea Maria Schenkel

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: In 1922 Germany, an entire family is slaughtered in their home. Why?

My rating: 3.5/5 Stars

My opinion: I found that I really had a hard time with this book and couldn't connect with it. Funny that it wasn't due to the topic of the book, but more from the writing style and/or translation of it. Another reviewer compared it to Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, but I must state that comparison should be limited to the storyline only.

Source: Publisher for review

Would I recommend? : I will state that even after almost one full year of having read the book, the jury is still out whether I would recommend this book. While the story was compelling, I found the writing/translation which is more important?

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand alone

She's Not There by PJ Parrish

Book: She's Not There

Author: PJ Parrish

Release date (if applicable): September 15, 2015

Synopsis: Amelia shows up into the ER with a serious head wound and a severe case of amnesia. A man appears at the ER and claims he is her husband, but Amelia knows that he isn't safe to be around. After slipping out of the ER and going on the run, will Amelia make it out alive? What does Amelia know and why does someone want her dead?

My rating: 3.5/5 Stars

My opinion: NOTE: I have read all the books written by this dynamic sister duo. My big joke on my love of PJ Parrish's writing goes back to 2000 with the publishing of Dark of the Moon. I will never forget a debate with my husband regarding male vs. female mystery writers (that was actually prompted by who PJ Parrish was because there is no picture of the sisters in early releases), my husband stated that he didn't like to read female mystery writers due to their focus on romance vs. "mystery". To follow this statement, he stated that there was no way that PJ Parrish was female because of the lack of romance in their books. Let's just say that comment didn't go unanswered. In the meantime, we loaned out Parrish books to friends/coworkers and got them hooked. After one of the Kincaid series releases that particularly rocked it, I was determined to find out who PJ Parrish was. Imagine my surprise when not only one woman came up, BUT TWO. Let's just say that I had a Cheshire Cat grin on my face when I called my husband to the computer.  

1) As a result of the above note, I have grown very accustomed to their writing style. Unfortunately, for me, because of how one scene was written in the early part of the book, I figured out the ending in the first 25 percent. The rest was just an unraveling and fitting pieces. Pretty depressing given that I was all over this when I saw it was coming out and did a happy dance when I was approved to review it.

2) Unlike their Louis Kincaid series, this book wrapped up with a nice, pretty red ribbon. That was kind of a tough pill to swallow given that this isn't the sisters standard MO. It left me with an empty, unsatisfied feeling.

3) Their high-quality writing and story/character development was still present. I will state that my attention was captured within the first 100 pages. To be totally fair, those who don't know of the Sisters' style will probably miss what I caught.

4) As these ladies are on my top 5 list of recommended American mystery writers, I would still recommend this book to more squeamish readers. HOWEVER, my first recommendation would still be the Louis Kincaid series, which is simply AWESOME.

5) I still pre-ordered a print copy for my husband, so, by no means, was this book horrible.

Source: Netgalley for Publisher

Would I recommend? : See above. I always recommend the Sisters!

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand alone


Yoga Therapy for Stress and Anxiety: Create a Holistic, Personalized Plan to Balance Your Life

Book: Yoga Therapy for Stress and Anxiety: Create a Holistic, Personalized Plan to Balance Your Life

Author: Robert Butera, Ph.D; Erin Byron; Staffan Elgelid, Ph.D

Release date (if applicable): September 8, 2015

Synopsis: From Llewellyn Worldwide

Holistic, practical, and student-centered, this guide offers you the tools and freedom to delve deep into your interior landscape and create your own comprehensive yoga program—a program that, like the world around us, changes from year to year and day to day. The lasting benefits of these transformative yoga practices encompass health, relationships, work, relaxation, meditation, and spirituality.

My rating: 5 Stars

My opinion: This book is so much more than what I even thought it was going to be. As I find myself utilizing yoga as my life becomes more hectic and stressful, I found this book to be an absolutely dynamic read that will be going into my Amazon cart. It is very rare that I will purchase a book once I have reviewed it. This only occurs maybe once to twice per year, but this book definitely fits into that category.

This book not only discusses yoga poses, but works with readers to identify, target and address causes of stress and anxiety, which really stood out to me. One of the things that was most important to me was that this book didn't have the "new age" feeling to it that I have seen in other yoga books. I found that really drew me to it. and I was more receptive to what the authors were saying.  

Source: Netgalley for Publisher

Would I recommend? : Yes, I will be purchasing this book and have recommended it repeatedly.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand alone

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Little Girls: A Ghost Story by Ronald Malfi

Book: Little Girls: A Ghost Story

Author: Ronald Malfi

Release date (if applicable): June 30, 2015

Synopsis: After her Alzheimer suffering father commits suicide, Laurie is forced to return to a home that she escaped to get it ready for sale. Accompanying her are her husband, Ted, and 10 year old daughter, Susan.

Immediately, weird things begin to happen that causes Laurie to question her sanity, her past and the safety of her daughter. What has Laurie suppressed that caused her to leave her father's home and never look back? What does it have to do with a room at the top of the stairs that she was never allowed to go into as a child and where her father jumped from? Maybe Susan's new friend, Abigail, can help Laurie to remember, but will that knowledge come to late?

My rating: 3 Stars

My Opinion: As in typical Malfi fashion, I found this book to be solidly written with well developed characters and a storyline, but I didn't find it up to the creepiness factor that has made Malfi one of my favorite indie writers.

Unlike his other works, I found this book wrapped up a bit too neatly and cheesy for me. This is not his usual forte. I have a quote in one of my previous Malfi reviews that states that his books end with red ribbons...blood red. Not this one. It had that "HOLY COW" Malfi experience at the 90% mark, but then fell at the ending.

All of this author's other books have garnered no less than 4 stars from me, so I felt kind of let down on this one. I feel I had almost overhyped my expectations for this book given the description of it, that I had waited a good 4 months for it to come out and just look at that cover. Who couldn't get hyped up over that creepy cover? In the end, I would still recommend this one, but I would encourage others to not miss some of his "POW" reads for me, such as Floating Staircase.

Source: Netgalley for Publisher

Would I recommend? : I would recommend this book to readers who don't necessarily enjoy or are sensitive to horror writing, but enjoy ghost stories. I would recommend FLOATING STAIRCASE, THE MOURNING HOUSE AND CRADLE LAKE first, but put this one on my list of Malfi books with the caveat of it being lighter than his other works.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

American Ghost: The True Story of a Family's Haunted Past by Hannah Nordhaus

Book: American Ghost

Author: Hannah Nordhaus

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Ms. Nordhaus goes on the search for her past, which happens to include a great, great grandmother who is known to haunt a hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Why can't Julia finally rest?

My rating: 3 Stars

My opinion: I found this book to be ok, not great, but not horrible either. I went into it thinking it was a true ghost story and found that it was more of a memoir. Unfortunately, as I changed my approach to reviewing the book, I found my interest in it waned.

As the author was discussing her attempts to decode her past, she talked heavily about the use of psychics, mediums, etc. and just went down that entire path versus looking strongly/being dependent on genealogical research . At that point, she lost me and I found myself rolling my eyes a whole lot.

I wished she would have focused more heavily on was the family history of mental illness and how the illness and its perception was impacted by that period of time.

Source: Netgalley for Publisher

Would I recommend? : The jury is still out on my recommendation. Frankly, I finished this book several months ago and had I not have taken copious notes, would have forgotten it.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Mourning Lincoln by Martha Hodes

Book: Mourning Lincoln

Author: Martha Hodes

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: We all know that our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, was assassinated by South sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth, but what was our nation's reaction to this tragedy on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line?

My rating: 5 Stars

My opinion: As someone who has read several hundred books on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, I had always wondered about the reaction to Lincoln's assassination by John Wilkes Booth. The material that I read had never done a deep study of it...until now.

I found this book to be incredibly well developed through the research that this author done. This book is loaded with first person accounts, as well as quotes from both the North and South. The author did an excellent job in not presenting a bias (which is one thing I always look for in the works I review), she had a nice balance of both outrage and support of the assassination. The author managed to accomplish this in a book that flowed well and was inviting to its readers.

While I wouldn't call this book the best book ever written on our 16th President or that period of time in US history, I would state that it is on my top twenty for engagement of readers and the depth and quality of the research.

Source: Netgalley for publisher

Would I recommend? : Already have done so to numerous Lincoln enthusiasts, as well as library acquisitions.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone