Category Archives: reading
The ultimate in slow-cooker books–with 500 recipes, each adapted for three sizes of appliance. From breakfast to soups, mains to grains, vegetables to desserts, this guide is the only book you’ll ever need to master your slow cooker or crockpot.
Millions of people are turning to slow cookers for their weeknight meals yet often can’t find recipes that match their exact machine. Adapting recipes meant for a different-size cooker doesn’t work–getting the right level of spice in your Vietnamese soup or keeping pulled pork tender requires having ingredients in the right proportion. But now, Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough have decoded slow cookers, and each of their recipes includes ingredient proportions for 2-3 quart, 4-5 quart, and 6-8 quart machines, guaranteeing a perfect fit no matter what machine you own. Each recipe is labeled for its level of difficulty and nutritional value, and they cover every kind of dish imaginable: delicious breakfast oatmeals, slow-braised meats, succulent vegetables, sweet jams and savory sauces, decadent desserts. This is the slow cooker book to end them all.
MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
Before you even start looking up recipes in this book, it would benefit you greatly as a chef to read the introduction and tips in the beginning. This book offers recipes for 3 common sizes of slow cookers, so you will need to know the size of your before you attempt any recipes.
Once you get to the recipes, you are greeted with a wide variety of dishes and ingredients, some common, some more obscure. I like that this cookbook has slow cooker dessert and breakfast recipes, which for some reason are few and far between in most places.
The best part about this cookbook is that the reader knows that all the recipes contained within have been tried and found true. At the end of each is a footnote that will help you achieve slow cooking success. I’m glad to add this book to my collection and I know I will be referencing it often.
“Who we were had washed away with the summer. Who we are was yet to be seen.”
Summer school at Alcott High was only supposed to gain Sadie Peters extra credit, nothing more. Her goal wasn’t to make friends, or gain the attention of the most popular football player, yet she managed both. Her life was cruising along on course … until that summer.
Could a simple stint in a different school change her identity completely and introduce her to love for the first time? How would that affect her relationship with Lily, her best friend?
Hopefully their friendship was strong enough to make it through the tumultuous summer. Sadie learns that great things come with change, but sometimes memories of the past are hardest to part with.
Christy Sloat is a SoCal born girl who resides in New Jersey currently with her husband, two daughters and Sophie her Chihuahua. Christy has embraced the love of reading and writing since her youth and was inspired by her grandmother’s loving support. Christy passes that love of reading, writing, and creativity to her daughters, family, and friends. When you do not find Christy within the pages of a book you can find her being mommy, wife, crafter, and dear friend. She loves adventurous journeys with her friends and can be known to get lost inside a bookstore. Be sure to venture into her Past Lives Series, The Visitor’s Series, and watch for many more exciting things to come.
Death at Carp High
by Jeremy Gold
Jake Brown Mysteries, Book One
Jake Brown is your average, above-average kid. He generally has his mind on the usual things high school seniors think about: girls, avoiding Spanish class, girls, pizza, surfing, girls, and of course, girls. None of that changes when he and his best friend, Dean, go surfing and find a body with a hole in its head floating beyond the waves. Suddenly, Jake’s life is about to change, some of it in a good way, some of it, not so much.
Shortly after “the big discovery,” Sydney, a cross country teammate of Jake’s, asks him to go to Morp—Prom spelled backwards—a Sadie Hawkins-style dance where the girls ask out the boys. As if life isn’t exciting enough trying to solve a murder, it looks like Jake is about to have his fondest wish granted—a real, live girlfriend. Despite Sydney’s obvious attraction to him, it takes a little work to convince Jake the attraction is real. Luckily, Sydney is very convincing.
In the beginning, Jake and Dean try keeping Lily and Sydney out of harm’s way. Their concern for their girlfriends doesn’t last long. Eventually, the four of them become entangled in clues—and making sure dire threats from their prime suspect don’t pan out. Jake might not say he’s gotten himself into a life-threating situation but not wanting to say it doesn’t make it any less true.
“Death at Carp High” has as many peaks and troughs as a winter swell at Rincon, and it’s all Jake and Dean can do to avoid wiping out.
About the Author
Jeremy Gold is seventeen years old…in his mind. He lives in Carpinteria, California, a small beachside town, ten miles south of its more celebrated sister, Santa Barbara. He loves hiking, mountain bike riding, and of course, writing. Death at Carp High is the first in the six-part Jake Brown mystery series.
Jeremy and his wife, Calla, have been married since 1979. Any resemblance between their 21-year-old son, Dan, and Jake Brown is purely…understandable.
Coexist by Julia Crane
Book 1 – Keegan’s Chronicles
Sixteen-year-old Keegan is struggling to keep her huge secret from her friends–she’s an elf, descended from a long line of elves that live in secrecy alongside humans.
In elfin society, mates are predetermined but not allowed to meet until they are eighteen. Against tradition, Keegan’s brother Thaddeus told her Rourk’s name because his visions warned him she’d need Rourk’s protection, especially since Keegan will play a key role in the coming war between the dark and light elves.
Rourk finds himself drawn to Keegan’s side every time she thinks his name. He wants to talk to her but remains in the shadows, silently guarding her every time she mentally beckons him. A twist of fate thrusts the two of them together when Rourk is forced to step up his protection and make his presence known.
An ancient prophecy deeply entwines Keegan’s family and the future of their society. Somehow they must find a way to thwart fate and win the battle…without losing Keegan. With war brewing, and dark forces aligning, will Keegan and Rourk ever have the life together that they both desire?
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About Julia Crane
Julia crane is the author of the Keegan’s Chronicles, IFICS. She has a bachelors degree in criminal justice. Julia has believed in magical creatures since the day her grandmother first told her an Irish tale. Growing up her mother greatly encouraged reading and using your imagination.
This is the Water
by Yannick Murphy
In a quiet New England community members of the swim team and their dedicated parents are preparing for a home meet. The most that Annie, a swim-mom of two girls, has to worry about is whether or not she fed her daughters enough carbs the night before; why her husband, Thomas, hasn’t kissed her in ages; and why she can’t get over the loss of her brother who shot himself a few years ago. But Annie’s world is about to change. From the bleachers, looking down at the swimmers, a dark haired man watches a girl. No one notices him. Annie is busy getting to know Paul, who flirts with Annie despite the fact that he’s married to her friend Chris, and despite Annie’s greying hair and crow’s feet. Chris is busy trying to discover whether or not Paul is really having an affair, and the swimmers are trying to shave milliseconds off their race times by squeezing themselves into skin-tight bathing suits and visualizing themselves winning their races.
But when a girl on the team is murdered at a nearby highway rest stop-the same rest stop where Paul made a gruesome discovery years ago-the parents suddenly find themselves adrift. Paul turns to Annie for comfort. Annie finds herself falling in love. Chris becomes obsessed with unmasking the killer.
With a serial killer now too close for comfort, Annie and her fellow swim-parents must make choices about where their loyalties lie. As a series of startling events unfold, Annie discovers what it means to follow your intuition, even if love, as well as lives, could be lost.
MY THOUGHTS: 3.5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
It takes a little while to get into the style of this novel; the story is oddly told in second person and in the present tense. While this is something rarely seen in a traditional novel, it makes for a different, and sometimes intense, reading experience. But once I was sucked in to the story, I couldn’t put it down.
Most of the book takes place in or around a swimming pool. The main character, Annie, is the mother of two young girls who are competitive swimmers. The man who is the killer spends a lot of time at the pool too, watching the meets and practices and carefully choosing his next victim. While there’s never any mystery as to who the killer is, that doesn’t change the fact that the reader gets chills when getting into his mind and actually seeing him describe committing the murders.
For the most part, I think this book would have been better with the exclusion of several characters and subplots, but the addition of some others. As an example, we do not hear anything about a murdered girl’s parents and their journey through grief, but you see a random swim dad’s thoughts about how his boys are swimming in the practice. This dad never came up again in the rest of the novel, and the paragraphs from his point of view were apropos of nothing. In addition to the cheating subplot, which I felt didn’t add much or develop the story, paragraphs full of swimming jargon and descriptions of nature gave the novel an overall bloated feeling.
Where this book did work was the way that the unique narration style allowed the reader to get into the heads of characters better. In addition to seeing Annie’s neuroses, we see her feelings of rejection from her husband, guilt about how she sometimes treats her daughters, and desire when she’s around the guy she is starting an affair with. Though Annie is the main character, we also see into the mind of the killer, and his matter of fact way of describing things is quite chilling.
As I said, this book is different from the start, and I can tell that it’s one that won’t appeal to all readers. If you can stick with it, I think you’ll be happy with the ending, even though to me it was a bit anticlimactic. This writer has talent, for sure.
About the Author
Yannick Murphy is the author of The Call; Signed, Mata Hari; Here They Come; and The Sea of Trees, as well as two story collections and several children’s books. She is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Award, a Chesterfield Screenwriting Award, a Pushcart Prize, and the Laurence L. & Thomas Winship/PEN New England Award. Her work has appeared in The Best American Nonrequired Reading and The O. Henry Prize Stories. She lives in Vermont with her husband and children.
Find out more about Yannick at her website.
Hey yall! Today I’m happy to spotlight author Belinda Boring and some of her works.
About the Author
With all that excitement, it wasn’t long before she began writing, pouring her imagination and creativity into the stories she dreams. Whether urban fantasy, paranormal romance or romance in general, Belinda strives to share great plots with heart and characters that you can’t help but connect with. Of course, she wouldn’t be Belinda without adding heroes she hopes will curl your toes.
Surrounded by a supportive cast of family, friends and the man she gives her heart and soul to, Belinda is living the good life. Happy reading!
Help for the Haunted
by John Searles
It begins with a call in the middle of snowy February evening. Lying in her bed, young Sylvie Mason overhears her parents on the phone across the hall. This is not the first late-night call they have received, since her mother and father have an uncommon occupation, helping “haunted souls” find peace. And yet, something in Sylvie senses that this call is different than the rest, especially when they are lured to the old church on the outskirts of town. Once there, her parents disappear, one after the other, behind the church’s red door, leaving Sylvie alone in the car. Not long after, she drifts off to sleep only to wake to the sound of gunfire.
Nearly a year later, we meet Sylvie again struggling with the loss of her parents, and living in the care of her older sister, who may be to blame for what happened the previous winter.
As the story moves back and forth in time, through the years leading up to the crime and the months following, the ever inquisitive and tender-hearted Sylvie pursues the mystery, moving closer to the knowledge of what occurred that night, as she comes to terms with her family’s past and uncovers secrets that have haunted them for years.
MY THOUGHTS: 3.75 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
There were three things about the description of this book that made me want to read it: it’s a murder mystery, it has a touch of the supernatural, and it’s told from the point of view of a child. All three of these things blended together beautifully and really made the book a fun read for me.
Sylvie Mason is slowly trying to put her life back together after the murder of her parents. A freshman in high school, she’s currently in the guardianship of older sister Rose, who has been volatile in the past to say the least. As Sylvie tries to work through her jumbled feelings about the night of the murder, she eventually also starts to work out what the truth really is, both about the murders and her parents.
Sylvie is 14 years old and while at times she can seem wise beyond her years, she also still has some of her childlike innocence, even in the face of the life she has led so far. Rose, four years older than Sylvie, was named for her mother but couldn’t be any more different than her. While Rose had a lot of arguments and misunderstandings with her parents during her teenage years, for the most part she never took it out on her younger sister. Rose and Sylvie are such different girls though, that it was impossible for them to always see eye to eye.
The Masons held an unusual job: they traveled the country offering “help for the haunted,” bringing peace to those claiming to be plagued by some demon or spirit. They often brought their work home with them, and as they became more well known, it made the girls’ lives tougher. Kids teased Sylvie, telling her that her parents were crackpots and so she must be too. But it wasn’t only kids that were detractors for the Masons’ work; they had plenty of adults against what they were doing as well–within their own family as a matter of fact. All of these different aspects made it a challenge for the reader to figure out the motive and killer.
In the end, I was quite surprised by the truth–I can definitely say I didn’t see it coming. While in a way I think it was disappointing, in another way I really appreciate what the author did. Sometimes bringing something out of left field doesn’t work in a book, but when it ties everything together, it can work nicely.
I was left with a ton of unanswered questions, but then again, so was Sylvie. I enjoyed going on her journey for the truth and can only hope she puts her life together to have some semblance of normalcy for the future.
About the Author
John Searles is the author of the national bestsellers Boy Still Missing and Strange but True. He frequently appears as a book critic on NBC’s Today show and CBS’s The Early Show. He is the Editor-at-Large of Cosmopolitan. His essays have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other national newspapers and magazines. He lives in New York City and can be found on Facebook and also on Twitter: @searlesbooks.
Special offer for book clubs:
Book clubs that sign up to chat with John Searles about Help for the Haunted could win a tote bag of books for each member of their book club! Find out more details about John Searles’ goal to speak to a book club in each state of the United States over at Book Club Girl!
Mother Daughter Book Reviews is pleased to be coordinating a Book Blast for the adorable picture book “Have You Seen My Tail?” by Kathryn Harper.
About the Book
Title: Have You Seen My Tail? (Katie-Jane, Book #2) | Author & Illustrator: Kathryn Harper | Publication Date: July, 2014 | Publisher: Green Cup Publishing | Pages: 36 | Recommended Ages: 3 to 8
Summary: Anyone who has ever struggled to accept – or longed to experience – change of any kind will be able to relate to Katie-Jane’s second story, “Have You Seen My Tail?” Using rhyming verse, and laugh-out-loud moments, Katie-Jane begins this story feeling bored. She is surprised and shocked as she meets a butterfly, a frog and a snake; who are all struggling to accept the recent big changes in their lives. Different perspectives help all four characters to accept their own situations, and embrace change in the way life offers it to them. “Have You Seen My Tail?” is the second book in the six-part Katie-Jane series, designed to encourage the reader to ‘be the very best version of you.’
You can also purchase the first book in the Katie-Jane Series, “Am I a Chameleon?” by clicking the book cover below:
Early Buzz About the Book
“Author Kathryn Harper offers insightful questions and answers at the end of the book explaining how she feels about change. I love how these insightful thoughts give the reader a chance to verbalize their own feelings. Like her other books, the illustrations are beautiful and vivid. Each of the animals has a wonderfully rich texture, color, and personality. The Katie-Jane books continue to not disappoint, I look forward to seeing the next books in the series.” ~ 5 Star Review, Katherine R., Amazon
“Katie-Jane is a very sweet character in “Have You Seen My Tail?” She helps to explain change in a gentle and unsuspecting way. This is the second book in the series for Author, Kathryn Harper. She writes a relatable story that children all over the world can grasp and understand. ” ~ 5 Star Review, Mary Jo P., Amazon
About the Author: Kathryn Harper
As a child I was selective mute. Both my struggles and my breakthroughs are a source of inspiration toward creating Katie-Jane and her stories.
I grew up in the UK, after living in Johannesburg between the ages of two and five. Today I live in Wanaka, New Zealand, with my two gorgeous children and partner, Simon. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to call this place home, where an adventure can begin every time we step outside.
* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *
Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest ends: August 21, 11:59 pm, 2014
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Kathryn Harper and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send an email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.
by Sarah Daltry & Pete Clark
Not too long ago, in a town that, depending on your current location, is either not super far or actually quite close… (insert Star Wars theme music here…)
It is a time of chaotic hormones.
Two nerdy gents home for winter break have discovered a female gamer at a midnight release.
During the break, the gamer trio manages to reveal the game’s secret boss, a hidden enemy with enough power to destroy anything in its path.
Pursued by other gamers who want to be the first to beat this boss, George and Katie race to level up, and, in so doing, restore decency and sexual activity to their personal galaxy…
MY THOUGHTS: 3 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
As a female who plays video games (I hate the term “girl gamer”), I should be offended by a lot of the things that happen in this book; after all, a girl uses her cleavage to her advantage in the very first chapter. While I definitely hated all the ridiculous stereotypes this book is filled with, I have to admit that this book did have an original twist on boy meets girl and romance.
First off, let me say if you aren’t what some would call a nerd, you will not understand this book, much less enjoy it. There are references to nerd culture, video games, movies, books, and the like in practically every line. I would call myself a geek, and there were some parts even I didn’t understand. This is one thing that massively bothered me, actually: every single character in this book has snarky, geeky comments to make, which are basically the only things that come out of their mouths. The main characters sounded more like 12 and 13 year olds with all the raunchy insults they were throwing around, and that is not good because they are supposed to be in college.
Let’s talk a little about our main characters. Katie, George, and Lanyon are home during their respective semester breaks. Katie is a loner who would rather spend her time leveling up than dressing up. George and Lanyon are lifelong best friends who probably (definitely) spend way too much time together, to the chagrin of both their love lives. All three of these people are at the game store waiting on the midnight release of the hottest new MMORPG. When Katie and George both grab for the last copy of the game, it’s not exactly a love at first sight moment. But as they spend more time together both in the real world and the online gaming one, sparks slowly start to fly and they begin dating–even if Lanyon is tagging along for every one.
As I said, this book is chock full of gamer stereotypes, so many so that I have to wonder if the authors are even gamers themselves. The characters in this novel subsist on Mountain Dew, Snickers, and Denny’s, and regularly stay up for more than 24 hours at a time in front of their consoles. Not only does this sound more like the behavior of teenagers than college students, but I feel like these kids’ parents would not be letting them get away with these kinds of things during their time at home and the holiday season. Maybe I’m just a pragmatist since I’m a parent myself.
The best thing about the book is that Katie and George’s courtship was so sweet and unique. They both really have no romantic backgrounds and no idea how to let one another know how they really feel. But, they try their best, and with the help (and hindrance) of their friends they come together without the ton of drama that YA and NA romances usually have.
I think this may be best suited for an audience a bit younger than me, though I’m glad I had the chance to read a refreshing romance for a change.
About the Authors
Sarah Daltry writes about the regular people who populate our lives. She’s written works in various genres – romance, erotica, fantasy, horror. Genre isn’t as important as telling a story about people and how their lives unfold. Sarah tends to focus on YA/NA characters but she’s been known to shake it up. Most of her stories are about relationships – romantic, familial, friendly – because love and empathy are the foundation of life. It doesn’t matter if the story is set in contemporary NY, historical Britain, or a fantasy world in the future – human beings are most interesting in the ways they interact with others. This is the principle behind all of Sarah’s stories.
Sarah has spent most of her life in school, from her BA and MA in English and writing to teaching both at the high school and college level. She also loves studying art history and really anything because learning is fun.
When Sarah isn’t writing, she tends to waste a lot of time checking Facebook for pictures of cats, shooting virtual zombies, and simply staring out the window.
She has written several books, most notably Bitter Fruits, an urban fantasy in the Eden’s Fall series, and the six-part New Adult contemporary Flowering series. Her most recent release is Primordial Dust, a YA fantasy.
Pete Clark likes writing, animals, potato chips, and cheese. Midnight Riders was his first published novel, although he can also proudly say he finally finished Helix Crashing, the fantasy novel he has been working on for over a decade. In addition, he has written Across the Barren Landscape, a collection of linked Western short stories, and Tales from Midnight’s Graveyard, a collection of non-linked horror, science fiction, and fantasy stories. He also writes plays, both dramatic and comedic.
Pete’s Website: http://punchmyselfintheface.wordpress.com
Pete’s Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PeteClarkAuthor
Sarah’s Twitter: http://twitter.com/SarahDaltry
Pete’s Twitter: http://twitter.com/PeteClarkBooks
PURCHASE BACKWARD COMPATIBLE
Title: What if…? | Author: Jessica Barondes | Publication Date: January 7, 2014 | Publisher: Sense and Sensability Press | Pages: 145 | Recommended Ages: 10+ | Reviewed by: Renee (Mother)
Summary: Life is complicated for the average tween, but try being the smallest girl in 7th grade and navigating the choppy waters of middle school without a mom. Such is the plight of Penelope “P” Ziegler, until she decides to take matters into her own hands and find a wife for her hopelessly quirky dad. Despite Dad’s objections, P is sure—with all her heart—that there’s a woman out there who will make them both very happy!
* FREE BOOK *
You can grab your FREE COPY (electronic) of What if…? by Jessica Barondes from July 18 to 22, 2014 from Amazon. Just click on the book cover below.
The Buzz About the Book
“What if…? is a bittersweet and sometimes comical tale of a tween girl, P, who must come to terms with the loss of her mother as she navigates the world of dating, puberty, school, and friendships. P will absolutely warm your heart and the ending is guaranteed to leave you teary-eyed. While I sometimes felt that the themes were more appropriate for teens, I also came to realize that tween girls will also really enjoy reading about the world that they are just on the cusp of entering. *shudder* Ages 10+.” ~ Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews
“What a treat to fall in love with a character from the first second you begin to read her story. P has wit, charm, pluck, charisma–and a lot of things to learn. I totally loved her voice, world, friends and the many ways in which she drove her father Georgy insane. Full of laughs and love this charming book is a wonderful read–no matter what your age.” ~ 5 Star Review, Blue, Amazon
“This is a charming and delightful read from start to finish, filled with characters you really care about, especially the unique girl “P” at the center. You don’t have to be in this age group or life situation to relate to the sweet and heartfelt story about wanting the best for those you love. It’s timeless and inspiring and may bring a tear to your eye!” ~ 5 Star Review, Susan A., Amazon
“Witty, intelligent and edgy coming-of-age book for girls (and parents!). This little book is a real gem. I bought it for my nieces too in hopes that they will appreciate their moms more! (and give their dads a chance to be a true hero, like the dad in this book!) I would bet that school libraries, teachers, parents and girls will rate this book a favorite for years to come.” ~ 5 Star Review, Louann B., Amazon
“I was absolutely enchanted from the first page. This book made me cry! It was delightful. The story so sweet and the characters endearing and so real. By the time I got to the end, I just wanted to burst out in applause. This book is a joy to read at any age but perfect for the “tween” reader.” ~ 5 Star Review, Jen W., Amazon
“Both my 11-year old daughter and I loved this wonderfully written book. Charming and exciting from beginning to end, this book is a real treasure.” ~ 5 Star Review, Susan L., Amazon
About the Author
Jessica Barondes grew up in La Jolla, California and now makes her home in Los Angeles with her husband Ben and their teenagers Jonah and Ellie. Jessica is also a screenwriter whose credits include Little Secrets, Lucky Seven, and Wish Upon a Star, a Disney Channel classic, which was a winner at the Heartland Film Festival. Jessica is currently working on several new movie projects and is an associate producer of the new family film Cowgirls n’ Angeles: Dakota’s Summer.
* $100 Book Blast Giveaway *
Prize: $100 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest ends: August 16, 11:59 pm, 2014
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.