• Tacos Tacos and More Tacos

    I love tacos. And not in that once in a while a taco sounds yummy kinda of way. But in a I could live on tacos and be completely happy about it. There has been more then a time or two where I started my day with egg tacos for breakfast, then had chicken tacos for lunch and ended the day with shrimp tacos. I simply cannot get enough.

    When I was asked to review Alex Stupak and Jordana Rothman’s book “Tacos Recipes and Provocation” I was beyond excited. There may have been jumping and squealing. I could not wait to get my hands on this book, and let me tell you that it did not disappoint.

    Once it arrived, I opened the box and stood in awe of this beautiful book. After taking it out, even the book smelled of spices. (And yes I made everyone in my family smell it to make sure that I was nor just imagining it) It is a thick, heavy, hard back with all the writing almost engraved into the cover. It makes a beautiful addition to any kitchen.

    I was surprised at the detail that went into this book. It goes over so much more then just tacos. It covers tortillas, salsas, chiles and more. The inspiration here was overwhelming. After reading it, all in one sitting and driving my family nuts talking about tacos, I made a grocery list of everything that I was going to need to make tacos; complete from scratch, and off to the store I went.

    tortilla fail

    Well to say it was a disaster would be a bit dramatic. But, there were no fresh from scratch tortillas for my tacos. We will have to try and attempt that again at another time. Quite possibly with margaritas. The rest of the meal was simply amazing. We did the grilled shrimp tacos from the book, substituting avocados with pineapple (we are not a green eating family over here). The simplicity in the taco did not take away from the flavor. Living here in the southwest, we are no stranger to spicy mexican food, and these were just as good as any restaurant tacos I have ever had. That is saying a lot, since cooking is not one of my strongest suits.

    If you are looking for a great book on a singular topic to add to your collection, this would hands down be the best one that I have read.

    Do any of you guys share my taco love here? Would you buy a book only on tacos? Are you willing to try variations of the classic ground beef taco (which we learn in the book are not something that you would actually ever find in Mexico)?

  • Peach Of A Pair

    A Peach of a Pair 2

    A Peach of a Pair

    About the Author

    Kim Boykin was raised in her South Carolina home with two girly sisters and great parents. She had a happy, boring childhood, which sucks if you’re a writer because you have to create your own crazy. PLUS after you’re published and you’re being interviewed, it’s very appealing when the author actually lived in Crazy Town or somewhere in the general vicinity.

    Almost everything she learned about writing, she learned from her grandpa, an oral storyteller, who was a master teacher of pacing and sensory detail. He held court under an old mimosa tree on the family farm, and people used to come from all around to hear him tell stories about growing up in rural Georgia and share his unique take on the world.

    As a stay-at-home mom, Kim started writing, grabbing snip-its of time in the car rider line or on the bleachers at swim practice. After her kids left the nest, she started submitting her work, sold her first novel at 53, and has been writing like crazy ever since.

    Thanks to the lessons she learned under that mimosa tree, her books are well reviewed and, according to RT Book Reviews, feel like they’re being told across a kitchen table. She is the author of A Peach of a Pair, Palmetto Moon and The Wisdom of Hair from Berkley/NAL/Penguin; Flirting with Forever, She’s the One, Just in Time for Christmas, Steal Me, Cowboy and Sweet Home Carolina from Tule. While her heart is always in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, she lives in Charlotte and has a heart for hairstylist, librarians, and book junkies like herself.

    About the Book:

    “Palmetto Moon” inspired “The Huffington Post” to rave, It is always nice to discover a new talented author and Kim Boykin is quite a find. Now, she delivers a novel of a woman picking up the pieces of her life with the help of two spirited, elderly sisters in South Carolina.

    April, 1953. Nettie Gilbert has cherished her time studying to be a music teacher at Columbia College in South Carolina, but as graduation approaches, she can’t wait to return to her family and her childhood sweetheart, Brooks, in Alabama. But just days before her senior recital, she gets a letter from her mama telling her that Brooks is getting married . . . to her own sister.

    Devastated, Nettie drops out of school and takes a job as live-in help for two old-maid sisters, Emily and Lurleen Eldridge. Emily is fiercely protective of the ailing Lurleen, but their sisterhood has weathered many storms. And as Nettie learns more about their lives on a trip to see a faith healer halfway across the country, she’ll discover that love and forgiveness will one day lead her home.

    Book Excerpt:

    “Dear Nettie,

    It might seem cruel to send this letter along with a proper invitation, but I couldn’t bring myself to call you, and I wasn’t given much notice regarding this matter. I also know you well enough to know you would have to see the invitation to truly believe it. Although I do regret not having enough time to have them engraved.

    I’m sorry to be the one to give you the news about Brooks and Sissy. I love you, Nettie, and I love your sister. I’m not condoning her behavior or the fact that she is in the family way, but you are blood. You are sisters. No man can break that bond, not even Brooks.

    There’s money and a bus ticket paper-clipped to the invitation. I’ve checked the schedules. You should be able to leave Columbia on Thursday the week of the wedding after your morning classes and get back by Sunday night. I know how you hate to miss class, and if you are also missing some wonderful end-of-the-year party, I’m sorry. So very sorry.

    But the milk has been spilled, Nettie. Come home and stand up with your sister. She needs you. She’s a wreck, and it makes me worry about the baby.

    Just come home.

    Love, Mother”

    My Thoughts

    Where to start on this amazing book. I loved all the relationships. Nettie and her classmates, the sisters, Nettie and each sister (both relationships were so very different), Nettie and her family, the sisters and the young doctor. They were all so very real. They were complex like all relationships.

    The book at times had me laughing out loud. The commentary between the sisters was perfect. It is exactly what and how sisters would say things to each other.

    There was love, romance, humor, heartbreak. Everything that is needed for a deep book was here. Not one to be missed.

  • Stop The Diet.. I Want To Get Off

    Stop the Diet 2

    If you are looking for a book to help you eat healthier, then this is the book for you! This book is straight forward, easy to read, and best of all, contains a lot of common sense. It is written in a way that you can follow, and you can understand the reason behind her ideas. It debunks “fad-diets”, cause lets be honest, we all have tried at least one at one point in time. She explains why they don’t work.

    From the Back of the Book-

    “The Paleo. The Zone. The Gluten-free. Another day, another diet. We’re caught in a never-ending merry-go-round of weight loss plans, fueled by celebrity endorsers, TV doctors and companies angling for a piece of a $60 billion industry. But do these diets really work? And how healthy are they?

    Registered Dietitian Lisa Tillinger Johansen examines dozens of the most wildly popular diets based on medical facts, not hype. And along the way, she reveals tried-and-true weight loss strategies, relying on her years of hospital experience, weight-loss seminars and community outreach efforts. With insight and humor, Stop The Diet, I Want To Get Off shows that the best answer is often not a trendy celebrity-endorsed diet, but easy-to-follow guidelines that are best for our health and our waistlines.”

    My Thoughts

    Once the book debunks all the fad diets, it goes into what is healthy. The only tips that I personally didn’t like is that it says to choose low fat/no fat options. While I get those have less fat and calories, they are not really a healthier option. Even with that, I loved how this book broke apart food labels. It finally explained it in a way where the lightbulb turned on, and I actually understood it. I love how she broke down calories, and really explained them in detail. It has tips for eating out, which is helpful for a busy family.

    It has a great section on exercise. I loved (and hated) how it showed examples of food, and that it would take to burn them off. My two slices of pepperoni pizza would cost me 2.5 hours of yoga. So not cool.

    The only item that I wish that it had; recipes. While I know that this is not a cook book, it would have been nice to have an example or two putting all these ideas together. But other then that, it really was a great reference point.

    Which fad-diets have you tried? Were you able to get any success from them? Did the success continue once you stopped? Do you read health books?

  • Time Conquers All

    IMG_5932

    I honestly don’t even know where to start with this review. There is simply nothing not to love about this book, about the author, about her personal story, or the fact that she is another Arizonian. Everything is spot on, it is running on all cylinders, and all signs point to yes. Lets start with the book itself.

    From the Back of the Book

    “Time-travel romance based in the late 1500’s in the India region of the world. Epic romance with a warrior princess meeting the love of her life. Unfortunately, he’s an American soldier from the 1960’s and the king from a neighboring country. This is book one in the “time series.””

    Okay so the back of the book doesn’t give away much. You have Tamea, the princess; who also is the youngest warrior in her country. Then we have King Parker who shows up, but he may not be who he says he is. There is magic, there is romance, there is plot twists that you won’t see coming, there is time travel. There is nothing not to like.

    It is exceptionally well written. The characters unfold to perfection. You get to know each of them, know their strengths and weakness, each one of them you will get to know inside out. And just when you think that you know everything there is to know about them, you get a little zinger with new information. The setting is well laid out, she really does a great job of showing you where it all takes place. Yes there are a few historical inaccuracies, but come on, do you really know what life was like in the 1500’s? Nope, I didn’t think so.

    Let me put this out there, I am in no way a fan of sci-fi, I am not really into time travel; and this book was so amazing that I couldn’t get enough. And at the Kindle price of only $0.99 it is one that you should certainly read. Like now! Be prepared to curl up with a blanket, a cup of tea, and dive into this story.

    About the Author

    P.J. Hultstrand is a genuinely nice person. She is helpful, encouraging, and a wealth of information. That she is willing to pass on to newbie authors/bloggers like myself. After getting her book, and reading the preface, she is also an open book. I love how she explains how this book was started, what triggered it to be finished, and how her characters changed based on the changes that she was encountering in her personal life. Not only do we get to know the characters in her books; she opens up and lets us see who she is.

    Do you read sci-fi or time traveling books? So you like knowing about the author’s personal life or are you a dive into the story alone, type of reader? What are your thoughts about books that have modern day characters traveling back in time? Let me know.

  • Capture The Moment

    Capture the Moment

    What a beautiful book. Every page is beautifully laid out. There is a great mix of black and white, as well as, colored photos. There are pictures of children, of details, of shadows, of non-living things, basically there are pictures of everything. It really inspires you to grab your camera and get snapping.

    From Back of Book

    “This modern guide to photography pairs big, bold images with short, focused tips for translating everyday life into stunning works of art. Featuring contributions by the members of Clickin Moms, the photography industry’s largest social network of female photographers, this guide captures the beauty of family life—whether it’s a child’s unfinished bowl of cereal or a sunlit trip to the lake. With tips progressing from elementary to advanced, this book is perfect for amateurs and professionals alike, covering equipment, composition, posing, low light, natural light, black and white, still life, and lifestyle photography. Assignments for experimenting with lighting and shooting locations round out the chapters, providing photographers with both the inspiration and skills they need to document those unforgettable, frame-worthy moments in time.”

    Overall Thoughts

    While this book is beautiful, and perfectly priced at only $21.99, I felt like it was missing the boat a bit. If you are already an amateur photographer then this is perfect for you. It will give you a fantastic platform to jump off of and grow your ability. However, if you are like me, then this book is slightly out of your grasp. While it has an amazing tips and ideas, it doesn’t tell you how to actually achieve these photos. It does a great job of getting the inspiration flowing, without the knowledge of how to configure the shot, your photos still are a bit flat. Even with that said, I would recommend this book for your coffee table. It is a lovely art book, beautifully bound, with a heavy hardback cover.

    Do you buy books for your coffee table? Do you like photography books that assume you know something about composition and cameras? Or do you prefer one that starts at the beginning?

  • Yell and Shout and Cry and Pout

    Yell and Shout 2

    From the Back of the Book:

    “Yell and Shout, Cry and Pout: A Kid’s Guide to Feelings is an essential guidebook for adults in helping children identify and understand their emotions. Each of the eight emotions is clearly defined thorough vignettes and illustrations, keeping both adult and child captivated, thus creating an opportune time for discussion. By recognizing that all humans experience these emotions throughout their lives, the book provides a true sense of comfort. Emotions are not to be shunned, but rather embraced and explained to provide a positive development environment for all children.”

    My Thoughts:

    Did everyone see the movie Inside Out? It was probably one of the best kid movies that deal with emotion. My kids loved the way that each of the emotions were shown as a person; how they work together to make you, well, you. After watching it, all three of my girls wanted (and demanded to know more about their emotions. In particular what other emotions that they have.)

    It was the perfect timing for the book Yell and Shout and Cry and Pout by Peggy Krugertietz Ph.D. to show up on in my mailbox. Immediately the girls opened it up and started to explore their emotions.

    They loved learning more about their emotions that they learned about in Inside Out: Anger, Sadness and Disgust. Then they were thrilled to learn about the emotions that they know well: Happiness and Love. Last, there were new emotions: Fear, Shame, Surprise. After the initial reading they have gone back and looked through it. Even asking each other when they have felt certain emotions.

    They really did enjoy this book. Not in a “story at bedtime” type of way. But in a “lets look through it together” type of way. With the book sitting at $13 for a paperback, I think that it is a good book to have in your kids bookshelf. At the very least, it would be a reference book for them when they are feeling something without quite knowing what it is.

    What about you guys. Do you keep reference books for your kids, or just story books? Is this something that you would have in their bookcase? What do you think of the price point ($13 for a 40 page book)?

  • Welcome Reluctant Stranger

    Welcome, Reluctant Stranger!

    A Riveting Tale of Love, Loss, and Finding Your Own Way
    From the Back of the Book-

    Can a family bury its secret past? Like her long-lost doctor father, Leilani Torres heals people.  But can she heal herself?  Having fled the troubled Pacific country, Costa Mora, for America when she was nine, she still doesn’t know what happened to her father, or what mysterious reasons prevented him from leaving with his family. But Leilani remembers that as a child, she learned to use a gun to protect herself against danger.

    A lovable computer nerd who’s failed at love.  Brokenhearted after his relationship of seven years ended, Justin just wants to drown his sorrows. But he finds more trouble than he’s looking for, when he is assaulted by thugs. An exotic woman with a dead aim rescues him. They’re drawn to each other, but Leilani hesitates. Justin is on the rebound or thinks of her as his rescuer.

    A hero or a villain? Suddenly, Leilani’s past is not so past, as a friend of her father turns up at her mother’s door with unexpected news.  Caught in a deadly political web, Dr. Torres’s alleged  crime shocks and unsettles Leilani. She isn’t sure if he is a hero or a villain, but only she and Justin can rescue him from their old island home.

    The many faces of love spun into a tale of past political intrigue and a young woman’s inner journey, accepting her past.

    About the Author

    EJourney is a realist who thinks she has little imagination. Credit that to her training (Ph. D., University of Illinois) and work in mental health, writing for academics and bureaucrats.

    A well-traveled flâneuse–a female observer-wanderer–she watches, observes, listens. And writes. A sucker for happy endings and an admirer of Jane Austen’s novel of manners approach to women’s fiction, she finds enough that depresses her about real life, but seeks no catharsis by writing about it. For her, writing is escape, entertainment.

    Her author website: Evy Writes here
    Her book blog: Escape Into Reality here
    Her blog on art, food, travel (mostly Paris), and state of being: Journey on a Limb here

    My Thoughts

    This was my favorite book in the Between Two Worlds series. While this is book three in the series, you certainly don’t have to read them in order, or even all of them. Each book has its own set of characters and its own story line. So pick up anywhere in the series, with a story that sounds good.

    I was intrigued with the back of the book info, but it happened to sit on my shelf until the very last moment. (In fact I actually finished it this morning, but shhh) To be honest, I don’t know why that was. I liked the premise of the book, I liked the author’s other books, this one though just didn’t scream at me to read it.

    Once started, it was a great story though. It read in the same manor as her other books. Meaning that while it is a slower pace book, it jumps right into the thick of it, and you get caught up in the characters. The stories are all well told, you get a full sense of what is going on. She is an amazing story teller. This book, unlike book two, had me guessing. I did not see the plot twist coming. That was a huge perk.

    Do you guys like books with lots of action? Or does a slower, simmering type book appeal to you every once in a while? What type of romance books are your favorite?

  • Great Teen Series

    Evolved

    About the Book:

    Title: Evolved
    Author: Aubrey Coletti
    Publisher: Escape Artist Press
    Pages:
    Genre: YA/Scifi/Thriller

    The boarders of J. Alter High have fought their school, sabotaged their school, and attempted to destroy their school. Yet the powerful Academy and its enigmatic Headmistress have remained always one step ahead of them. Now they must decide whether or not to work with the school, to unlock the abilities that brought them there — a decision that could tear them all apart. But choose they must, before they are out of moves, out of options . . . and out of time.

    About the Author

    Aubrey Coletti is a twenty-three year old singer-songwriter, dancer, and author, who began her first novel while still in high school. Now graduated from Sarah Lawrence College, she has three published novels in The Academy Series, Altered, Shattered, and Evolved.

    For More Information:

    My Thoughts

    I LOVED this series. It was incredibly fast moving, engaging plot twists, and characters that are so well developed that you can’t help but care about them. They form an unbreakable bond, that develops naturally. What I liked the best, it kept my daughter fully engaged. She finished the books late at night and was actually mad when they were done.

    A few words to the wise. There is quite a bit of language used. If you are wanting a clean book, this would not be it. But lets be honest, teens cuss. Also, there is quite a bit of physical abuse in the name of “behavior modification”. I was a bit taken aback for the graphic nature of it. However, throughout the series there is very little sex. This is the third book in the series, and you do need to read them in order.

    Do you guys mind your teens/high school students reading books with lots of language and abuse? Or is it something that you stay away from? Personally I have more issues with sex scenes, what about you guys? What do you let your teens read?

    **I did receive this book at no cost, in exchange for an honest review**

  • Going Off Script- Giuliana Rancic

    Going Off Script

    From The Back Of The Book

    “A witty, warm, and inspiring memoir from the E News! host, Fashion Police panelist, red-carpet correspondent, author, and reality show star Giuliana Rancic.

    Giuliana Rancic is best known for interviewing A-listers on the red carpet and E! News, skewering their shocking style choices on Fashion Police, and giving viewers a front row seat to her marriage and family life on her reality show, Giuliana & Bill. What fans may not know is that she learned English from Eddie Murphy, got her American citizenship so she could be a beauty queen, and used to have a bad habit of stealing cars for fun.

    Giuliana bares this and so much more in her hilarious, warm, and inspiring memoir, Going Off Script. From a young age she dreamed of being a TV anchorwoman but, because of her inclination toward mischief and away from schoolwork, her path to her dream job was far from straight. After a fateful (and mortifying) encounter with the late Senator Ted Kennedy, she learned that Hollywood news was where she belonged. Thankfully for readers, this epiphany led her to a bounty of LA misadventures (featuring notables such as Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Russell Crowe) and an entertaining behind-the-scenes perspective on what our favorite celebrities are really like.

    In spite of her glamorous Hollywood life, however, Giuliana could not escape some rockier times, including her battles with infertility and breast cancer. Here, for the first time, she reveals the whole truth behind her well-publicized struggles, and the highly controversial decisions she had to make. And, of course, at the heart of it all are the two loves of her life who keep her strong through everything, her husband Bill and her son, Duke.

    Candid, funny, and poignant, Going Off Script is an autobiography that proves you don’t always have to follow the rules to get the life you’ve always dreamed of.”

    I LOVED this book. It was a nice break from all the fiction and romance that I have been reading lately. If you have never heard of Giuliana Rancic then you have lived under a rock for over a decade. She has lived on TV E! doing the job that everyone wants: interviewing amazing celebs and co-hosting Fashion Police. She also had her own reality show. She is someone that everyone needs to know. (Side note to myself- the next time that my daughters have to write a bio on someone, I need to make them do it on her)

    Lets be honest for a moment, we all secretly hate celebs. They always look amazing, they always bounce right back after any trauma, their lives have this air where nothing can get them down. They are not “real” people, they never have a bad hair day, they never get bad news, the troubles that plague most of us seem to miss them. And we love and hate the celebs for this persona.

    In Giuliana’s book, her memoirs, she shows us what went on backstage. While her reality show showed us a more real version of her life; it still had a smile through it all. Her book is a no hold back look at what that all was really like. It shows the fight she had to get to where she was, it shows the fear of scoliosis, the heartbreak of infertility, and the real life recover of breast cancer. A must read for anyone!!!!

    Do you like to read memoirs?  Do the lives of celebrities intrigue you? Do you want to read books about their lives, or is it a waste of time?

  • Martian Girl #2

    Aoleon The Martian Girl PART 2

    From the Back of the Book:

    “Gilbert never knew that school could be so dangerous! Determined to accompany his new friend, Aoleon, wherever she goes, Gilbert soon finds himself back in school – at the Martian Space Academy.  There he’s introduced to Martian society, hears a history lesson on the Draconian and Andromedan races, and even gets invited to a psiball match.  But Gilbert soon finds out it’s not all fun and games.  Not only is Aoleon’s arch nemesis, Charm Lepton, determined to make sure that Aoleon doesn’t make it through the psiball game, but Gilbert also comes under attack when a mysterious force attempts to control him. Do our two heroes have what it takes to survive?  Find out in this exciting middle-grade science fiction adventure that’s sure to please young readers!”

    Meet the Author

    Mr. LeVasseur enjoys crafting good stories based on lovable characters designed to translate well to multiple media formats such as books, games, movies, and toys. He lives in New York when he is not commuting between Southern California and Olympus Mons, Mars. His hobbies include writing, 3D animation, musical composition, and intergalactic space travel. He also enjoys various sports such as skiing, running, and exospheric skydiving.

    Connect with Brent:   Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Aoléon: The Martian Girl

    My Review

    If you have not read my thoughts on the first book yet, go here to check it out. As you can see we had some mixed feelings about it. While it was not a 100% hit for my girls, they were still happy to get started on book number #2. Let me say that we are so glad that we did. Number 2 was a much better book for us. My girls were way more interested in the story line of this book.

    Maybe it had to do with the fact that they were just starting a new year of school and so was the main character, Gilbert, of the story was too. One big difference, he was going to martian school. The girls were so interested in all the differences between Earth schools and Aoleon’s school.

    It has a dash of Harry Potter: with a new sport to learn, and someone trying to control Gilbert.

    All three of my girls really enjoyed this one. I think that it was a little over the head of my youngest, were she was not completely following and enjoying the story line. However, the illustrations were amazing, she fully enjoyed exploring each one.

    Overall, a great book and they are very much looking forward to book #3.

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