Sunday, December 10, 2017

Review: Noelle

Noelle (A Dog Named Christmas #3)

Greg Kincaid

Just in time for Christmas, a warm-hearted tale about a family, a community, and a dog. Noelle, better known as Elle didn't have a good start in life, but that doesn't mean she isn't wanted. Todd, her owner, is sure he can train her to be a good service dog, even if it is proving to be a severe challenge.

The holiday season is bringing other challenges as well to the small town of Crossing Trails, Kansas. Todd's mother Anna McCray had managed to get herself into a fix by agreeing to play the role of Anna Claus this Christmas. While she wants to bring a message of giving rather than receiving this year she isn't prepared for that message to reach beyond her small town. Her success takes her further afield and her husband George is left to take up some of her chores around the house and plan for some unexpected events.

Christmas may never be the same in Crossing Trails but this year will definitely be a memorable one. This is a story that is sure to get anyone who reads it into the holiday spirit. I could just imagine this being made into a Hallmark television movie.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Review: Margaret Tudor

Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots: The Life of King Henry VIII's Sister

Margaret Tudor
Queen of Scots
Sarah-Beth Watkins

I so enjoy reading and learning about, what is for me at least, the lesser known Tudors. While I was aware that Henry VIII had two sisters, I didn't know that much about them. At times reading about Margaret, the oldest sister, I felt almost sorry for her. So often in her life, she seemed torn between her allegiance to her two countries of England and Scotland and her husbands and her brother. The one constant for her was the interest of her son James V which she put above everything else. It seems a pity that he didn't necessarily appreciate that as he came into his own as King of Scotland. It also appears that she would have found the distance and distrust between her son and her brother painful to bare.

This book provided a fascinating look into the life of a complex and vital woman who seemed so close to power at times but so isolated and alone at others. I also enjoyed the last chapter which charts Margaret's legacy and that of her offspring. It helps put everything that followed her into context.

Thanks to Chronos Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Review: Saving Tarboo Creek

Saving Tarboo Creek: One Family’s Quest to Heal the Land

Saving Tarboo Creek
Scott Freeman

This book follows the trials and tribulations of the Freeman family as they set out to restore the damaged Tarboo Creek in Washington State. It took time, patience and dedication to find the balance needed to bring the creek back to point where it could support local wildlife, especially spawning salmon. Who knew the life of the salmon was so precarious? It seems a wonder to me that any have survived at all considering the changes that have occurred to our rivers and streams over the decades.

The best thing about this book was that it encouraged me to take a closer look at the environment around me, especially the local wildlife. Having access to a green belt development in my city means that I have seen beavers, heron, rabbits, snakes and squirrels that I might otherwise have missed. I probably did not appreciate this as much as I should have. And if there was one thing that I will take away from this book it's the idea that we should treat the land as we would treat each other. A simple but profound message.

I do wish this book had contained some maps of the area and maybe some photos of restoration activities which would have given me a more intimate connection to the story and the family as well. Nevertheless I found this an interesting and informative read.

Thanks to Timber Press for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Kristen Kish Cooking

Kristen Kish Cooking: Recipes and Techniques

Kristen Kish Cooking
Kristen Kish

I have to admit I did not know anything about Kristen Kish before receiving this book. But with the informative introduction I came away with an appreciation of her life and work as a chef. The book itself is beautifully presented, it's both fresh and modern with wonderful photos and interesting recipes.

If I'm honest I will say that there were some recipes that I know I will not be trying, for example the octopus the Bay Scallop Crudo or the Hamachi. But, there were others that I felt I could easily tackle, for instance the Braised Baby Potatoes, Rigatoni with Walnuts or the Spring Pea Toast. I think this book is one that would inspire me to try something new in the kitchen. I also think this would make a great gift for the aspiring chef or someone who wants to be creative in the kitchen.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read and review this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Review: Doorways of Paris

Doorways of Paris

Doorways of Paris
Raquel Puig

I loved Doorways of Paris. The cover was beautiful and I can't wait to display this one on my coffee table over the holidays. Speaking of holidays, I think this would be a great gift idea for travel buffs, or those interested in art and architecture. If there is a downside to the beautifully presented book, it is only the lack of more details about the photos. I would have loved a little more text and a maybe more historical tidbits. Having said that, I still enjoyed this book very much.

Thanks to Goodreads giveaway for allowing me to read and review this book in exchange for an honest review.  

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Review: The Immortalists

The Immortalists

The Immortalists
Chloe Benjamin

What a fantastic book this was. There was something so addictive about it, and I find it hard to put my finger on what it was that made this so riveting. This was one of the most interesting books I've read recently.

Daniel, Varya, Klara and Simon are siblings from New York, who, at a young age, encounter a medium who reveals their future as well as the day of their deaths. When their father Saul dies the children, now ranging between the early twenties and sixteen, decide to seek out their paths in life, moving away from home to fulfill their dreams and ambitions. They have all been affected differently as a result of the information given to them by the mysterious fortune teller. Throughout this book, we follow each one as they make choices and decisions that affect not just the outcome of their lives but also their relationships with each other.

The effect is a clever and thoughtful story that gives the reader an intimate glimpse into each life and, while it sounds like it might result in a story that is somewhat predictable, it does not. I think this is what makes this book such a success, and the fact that the reader comes away with the feeling that this is a family they now feel intimately connected to and know very well. It forces one to think about destiny, fate, and self-determination not just about these characters but about life in general.

Thanks to Shelf-Awareness and G.P. Putnam's Sons for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Review: How to Set a Table

How to Set a Table: Inspiration, Ideas, and Etiquette for Hosting Friends and Family

How to Set a Table
Clarkson Potter

This small book would make a wonderful gift for someone either just starting out or moving to a new home. The fabric cover makes it look elegant and expensive. Inside it offers some good tips about which pieces of tableware to select and why one might want one as opposed to the other.

Having purchased a new set of flatware recently from Oneida, I was quite pleased to be able to review this book. While to be honest there isn't a great deal of depth to this book; it does provide a source of inspiration for creating beautiful table settings. It doesn't just focus on formal dinner parties either; it shows examples for informal dinners or even takeout dinners. So why keep all the good pieces locked away in the China cabinet, have some fun once in a while, or every night for that matter and set a beautiful table. It just might elevate dinner to another level.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.