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TOGETHER WITH YOU by VICTORIA BYLIN REVIEWED


TOGETHER WITH YOU
By Victoria Bylin
Published by Bethany House
ISBN#978-0-7648-1153-9
331 Pages

Back Cover: Sometimes the most unexpected love can be exactly what a heart needs...

When a Lost Child warning blares over the mall's PA system, Carly Mason finds the little girl playing with a stuffed rabbit. Something about Penny Tremaine is different. An ex-social worker, Carly recognizes that the child suffers fetal alcohol effects, and a piece of Carly's past suddenly confronts her. Never again will she become personally involved with a client. The risks are far too great. But something about Penny--and Penny's handsome father--tugs at Carly's heart.

Dr. Ryan Tremaine is trying to put his life back together. With his ex-wife remarried and on a trip far away, his two teenage sons and Penny are living under his roof full time. Ryan has put his faith in his Sink-or-Swim list, a plan to reconnect with his children. The first step: recruit Carly Mason to be Penny's nanny.

Ryan never anticipated being so drawn to Carly, an attraction Carly seems to fight as much as he does. Could Carly be the missing piece that helps his family stay afloat, or will their blossoming romance only complicate things further?

REVIEW: This is an emotionally-charged story that had my gut wrench and heart hurt as Dr. Ryan Tremaine finds himself in a situation no parent wants to ever be in; hearing the PA scream there is a Code Adam and you see them lock the mall doors. The author masterfully invites readers into this characters’ family drama which reveals the good, the bad and the messy.

Ryan is trying to cope with the fact that the affair he had destroyed his family and created a precious little girl that suffered from FASD. Penny is five years old and on the outside looks perfect in every way; but on the inside she doesn’t see things, feel things or process anything like everyone else.

Carly Mason is a store manager of a toy store and goes through the required procedures of a Code Adam drill; when she spots Penny. The little girl is in the process of melting down when her father and two siblings find her. Carly recognized the signs of FASD and knew how to deal with the situation she starts to hum. Ryan hears her hum, “Amazing Grace! He didn’t believe in God, but he knew the words to the old hymn. His mother had been quietly faithful in the face of his father’s intellectual pride, and she’d taken Ryan to church until he was old enough to protest.” He watched as Penny relaxed. It worked to his surprise. Ryan then tries to hire Carly to be Penny’s nanny on the spot. He had been thru 4 nannies just that week. No one understood his little girl.

Carly prays about the situation and talks to her dad. Her heart goes out to this little one and feels she can help. She was a social worker who studied this syndrome in college and interned at a facility that helped girls like Penny.

Penny is still trying to figure out what the last nanny said to her when Carly shows up. The nanny had asked her to “make her bed.” Penny said to herself, “Make it do what?” Things like that happened all the time. She didn’t care about making her bed, whatever that meant, but she cared a lot about a place called heaven Aunt DeeDee said her mother was there.” And Penny wanted to see her mom.

Ryan is determined to be a better father than he’s been in the past. He’s made some big mistakes and is trying to make things right and pay for those sins. He wanted to have this be the best summer together ever. Dr. Ryan Tremaine is determined to complete a long list of goals he has for his family. He wants to make great memories and connect with this kids on a deeper level.

The bible states that they will know we are Christians by our love. Carly brings a love and understanding to Penny, Ryan and his two teen boys that has been missing. They feel united for the first time. I liked how the author shows how relationships take time effort and need to be intentional to work well.

“Ryan knew Carly was a Christian, but what exactly did that mean? Hands off until marriage? No one he knew lived that way, but he had to admit, there was a time for self-control…Ryan came from a world where adults chose their own moralities.”

Carly says to Ryan, “It’s just that you and I don’t see things the same way.”

“What things?”

She looks at him, “Almost everything!  ..they were back to the faith issue – her belief that human beings made mistakes and needed a savior and his belief that he controlled his own destiny. Carly wasn’t ready to talk to Ryan about Penny and how she was going to explain heaven to this little one without talking about her faith.

This author does a brilliant job of showing life from both perspectives without being preachy! Loved that! This is a gripping story of a man who is willing to fight for his family; who’s trying to learn from his mistakes and might even think about forgiving himself and others. Carly is determined to do the right thing in hard times; wanted to head home to her small town in Kentucky once she completed her education. She wanted to show the love of God to those she met; is ready forgive others but forgiving herself was more challenging.

This author doesn’t beat around the bush with tough topics like, FASD and how it’s preventable, people make mistakes but it doesn’t have to define them, pre-material sex, affairs, existence of God, death, forgiveness, love and the fact that relationships take time, effort and can’t be rushed. We are all a work in progress.

This story was captivating on so many levels. My heart ached for this family as they tried to put the pieces back together. They almost come unglued by a well-meaning Aunt DeeDee who is not a team player. This author shows the nitty-gritty of how life isn’t easy but also shows it’s important to keep the main thing the main thing. This is the first novel I’ve read by this author it won’t be the last. There are a few surprised for readers too! I highly recommend this novel for a great read and one that would be wonderful for a book club pick.

Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com

Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com

BETH WHITE UP-CLOSE and PERSONAL PLUS CREOLE PRINCES GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY






ABOUT BOOK: Torn between loyalties to family and flag, one young woman is about to discover that her most important allegiance is to her heart.

It is 1776, and all along the eastern seaboard the American struggle for independence rages. But in the British-held southern port of Mobile, Alabama, the conflict brewing is much quieter--though no less deadly. 

Lyse Lanier may be largely French in heritage, but she spends most of her time in the company of the ebullient daughter of the British commander of Mobile. When a charming young Spanish merchant docks in town, Lyse is immediately struck by his easy wit and flair for the dramatic. But is he truly who he makes himself out to be? Spies abound, and Spain has yet to choose a side in the American conflict. Is Lyse simply an easy mark for Rafael Gonzalez to exploit? Or are his overtures of love as genuine as Spanish gold?

With spectacular detail that brings the cultural gumbo of the Colonial Gulf Coast alive, Beth White invites you to step into a world of intrigue and espionage from a little-known slice of the American Revolutionary War.

ABOUT AUTHOR: Beth White is the award-winning author of The Pelican Bride. A native Mississippian, she teaches music at an inner-city high school in historic Mobile, Alabama. Her novels have won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Carol Award, the RT Book Club Reviewers’ Choice Award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award. Learn more at www.bethwhite.net

“Duplicity, danger, political intrigue, and adventure.”—Booklist on The Pelican Bride

“New France comes alive thanks to intricate detail.”—Publishers Weekly review of The Pelican Bride

“The brutal New World [is] captured with distinct detail in this fast-paced romantic adventure.”—RT Book Reviews on The Pelican Bride
  
How did you come up with the idea for The Creole Princess?

I conceived the Gulf Coast Chronicles as a series similar to Elswyth Thane’s classic Williamsburg series—which was written and published in the 1940’s and ‘50’s, but which still holds up as wonderful romantic historical adventure—but set on the Gulf Coast. The idea was to take a couple of central families and build a sort of epic dynastic tale which would touch on major historic events. Book 1, The Pelican Bride, launched the series with the establishment of the Lanier family and the city of Mobile, Louisiana Territory, during the French Colonial period (1704).

The Creole Princess, Book 2 of the series, skips a couple of generations and places the reader in Mobile at the outbreak of the American Revolution. Events in Mobile (held by the British) and New Orleans (held by the Spanish) helped dictate what happened to my characters. But I had to decide which events to focus on, so I did a lot of preliminary reading and learned some surprising facts that aren’t generally taught in American history classes.

For instance, it isn’t generally known that the British actually had fifteen colonies; besides the thirteen that broke away and formed the United States, they also held East and West Florida, which remained loyal until the Spanish wrested them away near the end of the war. Also, documents are just now coming to light revealing Spain’s secret involvement in funding and supplying the Patriot cause—years before she actually joined France in military engagement on the American side.

Anyway, with those two central surprising facts in mind, I bounced around ideas with my son, Ryan, who turns out to have quite a good brain for developing story ideas and a great grasp of history. His contribution was a confiscated shipment of Spanish gold, which I loved! But character drives story for me, and in answering later questions I’ll explain more about how I developed the hero and heroine, Rafa and Lyse.

Nora: Interesting history. I liked the Spanish gold element in the story. Fun that your son can contribute to the story. Both of you helped me get a grasp on this time period. I was full engaged and adored your characters. Thanks for sharing the map too!

What was your favorite scene in The Creole Princess? Which was the most fun to write? Which was the hardest? Why?
Okay, sheepish confession here. I’m a romance fan from preteen years, so my favorite scene is the first kiss between Rafa and Lyse. I have gone back and read it multiple times, which is crazy since I wrote it! haha!

Nora: Fun! It was a precious moment! Loved it!

The scene that was the most fun to write was sort of in the middle of the book when I knew that Rafa would have to either ask Lyse to marry him and take her out of Mobile—or leave her there, vulnerable to prosecution as a traitor. When I began writing that scene, I honestly didn't know which way it was going to go (and I’m not going to provide a spoiler here). But as the dialogue unfolded, it took on a life of its own, Rafa was so perfectly “himself,” and I couldn't be happier with the story solution.

Nora: I like how you kept readers in suspense about his decision too!

The hardest scene to write was from the point of view of Lyse’s cousin Scarlet, a slave who is sold away from her husband and then finds herself pregnant with his child. Putting myself inside the skin and mind and heart of such a desperately sad person was emotionally grueling. It’s one of the darkest scenes in the book, so I had to find a way to lighten it with hope—and a delightful character named Blackberry came to life. I hope readers will like the scene as much as I do.

Nora: That scene about ripped my heart out. The events seemed unthinkable and crazy because it was legal. Slave owners didn't give it a second thought to what they were doing.

Can you give us a sneak peek into what you are working on now? When will it be out?

I’m working on the third book in the series. Set one generation after Creole Princess, during the War of 1812, it features a British naval officer with amnesia and the only daughter in an American ship-building family. The Battle of New Orleans and Andrew Jackson’s career-establishing heroics figure prominently in the second half of the book. But don’t worry—the romance stays front-and-center! It will be out in April 2016.

Nora: I’m looking forward to reading it Beth!

You state, “The history surrounding the American Revolution is complex, fascinating, and surprising – much too complicated to distill in a one-paragraph explanation.” What fascinating and/or surprising things did you discover in your research that did NOT make it in your book? Why didn’t you add it? What treasures did you share in your book?

One of my favorite discoveries about the Spanish alliance in the Patriot cause is a 550-mile cattle drive undertaken right around the time Spain declared war on England and entered into treaty with France. In order to feed two battalions of soldiers due to arrive on six transport ships from Havana, Spanish Louisiana Governor Bernardo de Gálvez ordered a group of vaqueros to escort 2000 longhorns from Béxar, Texas, to New Orleans during the summer of 1779.

My mind was totally blown, picturing that giant herd milling around the swamps and bayous of New Orleans—in the middle of a hurricane! Okay, I couldn’t resist sending my hero to be part of that assignment, though it happened “off-stage.” One day I may write the whole scenario into another story and let the Western adventure begin!

Nora: Wow! I look forward to your Western adventure!

I loved Lyse Lanier – she is feisty, hardworking, loyal, loving and passionate about her family. How did you create her? Is she based on anyone? What do you hope readers learn from her?

Lyse sort of appeared in my head full-blown. And, no, she isn’t really based on anyone I know—though some of my students I’ve taught in urban Mobile have faced the same kinds of challenges (messed-up parental units, dependent younger siblings, limited financial resources, etc.). There were some emotional and cultural things I wanted to explore with her—mixed racial heritage, mixed religious background, feelings of inferiority, survivor guilt…

So I gave her a disgraced alcoholic papa and a mother who was a beautiful freed slave. I gave her a beloved cousin who remains a slave. I had her fall in love with a wealthy young Spanish merchant who seems light-years above her socially—and deal with the hurt of his parents’ disapproval. I forced her to learn to make her own way and accept the generosity of others, but at the same time trust God’s goodness and justice.

My hope is that readers will identify with Lyse so closely that her hurts and worries and victories will bring them closer to God right along with her.

Nora: I identified with her very much. She had a lot to push through. I enjoyed reading how she found her way and learned to trust God. It was believable.

Don Rafa was so much fun. He was charming, inventive, clever and suave. How did you come up with his character? What do you hope readers take away and/or learn from Rafa?

Rafa is one of those characters who has become so real in my brain that I think of him at random moments and laugh. I’ve always wanted to write a Scarlet Pimpernel-type hero and finally got the chance (I don’t know how many times I’ve read that book, but “Sink me!” is to this day one of my favorite lines). So I kept telling myself, Make him seem stupid but make his actions brilliant—not an easy task. I hope I succeeded.

 Nora: YES, You Did!! Loved him. I haven’t read the book you talked about. Going to check it out. Sounds interesting and fun. (Kind of like your book!)

One thing I realized as Rafa did his thing was how vulnerable he really was underneath all that charisma. When you love someone, they are armed to hurt you, and it’s unbelievably difficult to keep putting yourself out there. I found his joking about Lyse throwing cake at him both funny and poignant. But my favorite thing about him was his standing up to his mother (as much as he loved and respected her) in defending Lyse. Men often don’t do that. And they should. 

Nora: I agree! 

You state that if the reader is a history geek they should check out “The American Crisis: Vol. 1 (1774-1779) writings of Thomas Paine.” When you read Thomas Paine’s collection of common sense essays; what did you think about it? Feel after you finished?











The common sense essays by Paine are amazing. I had read pieces of them in high school, and I've even quoted the famous “These are the times that try men’s souls” in a novella. But as I began to write The Creole Princess, I read the entire work all at one sitting. I’m not sure I can even articulate how it affected me. “Euphoric” sounds silly, even over-the-top, but I think that’s the closest I can come. 21st Century Americans take our freedom, our basic equality in our human-ness, so for granted—and I suddenly realized what a powerful, far-reaching impact Paine’s work must have had in waking people up, galvanizing them to forcefully claim that equality and freedom. The “American experiment” has been an astounding success, and I hope I never get over the joy and pride in being an American.

Nora: You talked about this in the book in the story. It was an eye opener.

What two jobs have you had that would surprise people? Do tell!

Dorm Room
I worked in a Fort Worth bank while my husband and I were in seminary, back in the early 80’s. Over the course of those four years, I did a stint in the motor bank, I worked in auto loan collections, I managed and balanced the ATM’s, and I served as the Customer Service supervisor. I like handling money. I like balancing a cash drawer. I like counting and making things come out even. It is the flip side of my creative brain, I guess.

The other weirdo job I had was being a Resident Assistant in my college dorm. Hey, I got a room to myself! And I got to tell people what to do (maybe that helped me become a teacher). It sure gave me some cultural education!

Nora: Getting to know another side of you Beth. Fun!

If you could have a day to yourself (money is not an issue) what would you do?
Artwork

When I have a day to myself, guilt-free (that means no deadlines hanging over my head), I take an art lesson and paint something. I grew up drawing with charcoal, mostly portraits of my friends and random children, then graduated to chalk pastels. I actually have earned some money with commissioned art. But last summer I took lessons in acrylic paints, and I’m in love! All those brilliant colors! Eeeee!!

Nora: LOL! That sounds freeing and fun! You are full of surprises! 

Name three things you’d rather not live without? (Besides your family it’s a given)

Art (see above). iTunes. Sudoku.









Is there something you’d like to try that you've always wanted to but haven’t so far? If so, what is it?
Beth conducting LeFlore Choir -Parent Appreciation Night Mobile
I’d really like to learn to play the oboe. One of my dearest friends was the oboist in our church orchestra, and I play flute, so we sat next to each other week after week for years, until she was killed in a car accident about eight years ago. So I’d kind of like to learn to play oboe in Tammy’s honor.

Nora: I’m sorry to hear that about your friend. It would be fun to learn in her honor!

Thanks for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books. 

I’m thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN starting TODAY APRIL 21st at GO TO www.bookfun.org Answer one of the authors questions to be entered..

Looking forward to it to reading the participation between you and readers! It’s always so much fun! Everyone has to be a member of TBCN in order to participate. It’s Free and easy. Participate as your schedule allows.

SEE YOU THERE!!

Looking forward to it to reading the participation between you and readers! It’s always so much fun! Everyone has to be a member of TBCN in order to participate. It’s Free and easy. Participate as your schedule allows.

Nora :o)

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com

The Book Club Network Blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com

IRENE HANNON INTERVIEW and GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY


ABOUT AUTHOR: Irene Hannon is a bestselling, award-winning author who took the publishing world by storm at the tender age of 10 with a sparkling piece of fiction that received national attention.

Okay…maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But she was one of the honorees in a complete-the-story contest conducted by a national children’s magazine. And she likes to think of that as her “official” fiction-writing debut!

Since then, she has written more than 45 romance and romantic suspense novels. Her books have been honored with two RITA awards—the “Oscar” of romantic fiction—and she is a six-time finalist. Her books have also won a Daphne du Maurier award, a Carol award, three HOLT Medallions, a National Readers’ Choice Award, a Retailers Choice Award, a Booksellers’ Best Award and two Reviewers’ Choice awards from RT Book Reviews magazine. One of her novels was also named by Booklist as a top 10 inspirational fiction books of 2011. In addition, she is a two-time Christy award finalist.

Irene, who holds a B.A. in psychology and an M.A. in journalism, juggled two careers for many years until she gave up her executive corporate communications position with a Fortune 500 company to write full-time. She is happy to say she has no regrets!

In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, gardening and singing.  A trained vocalist, she has sung the leading role in numerous musicals, including “South Pacific,” “Brigadoon,” “Oklahoma” “The King and I” and “Anything Goes.” She is also a soloist at her church.

When not otherwise occupied, Irene and her husband enjoy traveling, Saturday mornings at their favorite coffee shop and spending time with family. They make their home in Missouri.

I'd like to share with you an interview done by Brandy Heineman with author Irene Hannon in the October 2014 issue of Book Fun Magazine titled Face to Face with Irene on page 109 http://www.bookfunmagazine.com  

I'm a chicken at heart. I find Irene's writing good and her books realistic and super-scary to read. So, I wanted to point your attention to a review by Brandy Heineman who read and reviewed Irene's book Deceived for the January 2015 issue of Book Fun Magazine page 7. To Read the review go to www.bookfunmagazine.com 

You can click on the picture of Irene Hannon (on the front cover) and it will bring you to the review on page 7. You can read the first 100 pages of the magazine for free.  

ABOUT AUTHOR : BRANDY HEINEMAN   is a novelist infusing her stories with family history and faith. She’s a graduate of Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia with a degree in Business Administration and Communication. She spent a number of years working in the financial services industry, and now works in marketing.

If it’s true that there are only seven plots, hers is a “Voyage and Return” story. Whether the journey held far-off places or hard lessons learned, it has always circled back to north Georgia, the written word, and the love of Jesus.

Brandy writes stories seasoned with secrets from the past and mysteries of the heart. Her first novel is contracted with Elk Lake Publishing, and she is working hard on her second. She’s represented by Jim Hart of Hartline Literary Agency. When she’s not writing, she divides her free time between reading, scrapbooking, and genealogy sleuthing.

She is a member of ACFW and a Finalist in the 2014 Genesis contest. She has contributed articles to Writer… Interrupted, the ACFW Journal, and Book Fun MagazineReaders can connect with Brandy via her websiteFacebook and Twitter.





I’m thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN started the 21st of APRIL at www.bookfun.org .

Looking forward to it to reading the participation between you and readers! It’s always so much fun! Everyone has to be a member of TBCN in order to participate. It’s Free and easy. Participate as your schedule allows.

SEE YOU THERE!!

Nora :o)


Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network Blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com 

FOOD52 GENIUS RECIPES by KRISTEN MIGLORE REVIEWED


Food52 Genius Recipes
By Kristen Miglore
Published by 10 Speed Press
ISBN#978-1-60774-797-0
250

Back Cover: There are good recipes and there are great ones—and then, there are genius recipes.
 
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink the way we cook. They might involve an unexpectedly simple technique, debunk a kitchen myth, or apply a familiar ingredient in a new way. They’re handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacies. And, once we’ve folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. In this collection are 100 of the smartest and most remarkable ones.
 
There isn’t yet a single cookbook where you can find Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter, Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread, and Nigella Lawson’s Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake—plus dozens more of the most talked about, just-crazy-enough-to-work recipes of our time. Until now.
 
These are what Food52 Executive Editor Kristen Miglore calls genius recipes. Passed down from the cookbook authors, chefs, and bloggers who made them legendary, these foolproof recipes rethink cooking tropes, solve problems, get us talking, and make cooking more fun. Every week, Kristen features one such recipe and explains just what’s so brilliant about it in the James Beard Award-nominated Genius Recipes column on Food52. Here, in this book, she compiles 100 of the most essential ones—nearly half of which have never been featured in the column—with tips, riffs, mini-recipes, and stunning photographs from James Ransom, to create a cooking canon that will stand the test of time.
 
Once you try Michael Ruhlman’s fried chicken or Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s hummus, you’ll never want to go back to other versions. But there’s also a surprising ginger juice you didn’t realize you were missing and will want to put on everything—and a way to cook white chocolate that (finally) exposes its hidden glory. Some of these recipes you’ll follow to a T, but others will be jumping-off points for you to experiment with and make your own. Either way, with Kristen at the helm, revealing and explaining the genius of each recipe, Genius Recipes is destined to become every home cook’s go-to resource for smart, memorable cooking—because no one cook could have taught us so much.

REVIEW: Kristen Miglore is the executive editor of Food52 website. She says, “A genius recipe surprises us and makes us rethink cooking tropes. They’re handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacies. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we’ve folded them into our repertories they make us feel pretty genius too!”

A few of these recipes made me feel good at the fact I could create something so yummy and elegant looking. I tried the No Knead Bread by Jim Lahey. This changed the way I think about bread. The bread looked beautiful, tasted amazing and it was easy to make. Brilliant! Kristen said, “…it looked better than most breads you can buy, with a dewy, wide mawed crumb and dark crust that snaps under the knife.” It’s a technique anyone can do! My family and I were wowed by the heavenly taste, amazed by the texture and encouraged that we could create this again! It wasn’t a fluke.

The next recipe I tried were the Raised Waffles by Marion Cunningham. Again a technique that requires very little effort on my part to turn out great! Kristen has Genius tips throughout this books,  “the batter keeps and improves for several days in the fringe, if you want to get even more ahead (one to 7 days)….” I’m stunned at how far ahead you can make this and how great it tastes. It’s a crowd pleaser!

The last recipe I tried was the English Porridge by April Bloomfield. Again a brilliant recipe that allows you to have a party in your mouth with every bite. This recipe delivers an explosion of textures along with the salty sweet taste I and my family loved!

Kristen explains what they look for in Genius recipes and shares a little about the Chef for each recipe. She states that this is a collection of the 100 most essential ones – nearly ½ of the recipes have never been featured in a column on the Food52 food blog. James Ransom has taken stunning photographs that picture each recipe and some extra photos with step by step instructions.

Kristen says this book will help you “to create a cooking cannon that will stand the test of time.” I whole heartily agree!

The categories in this book start with Breakfast, Snacks and drinks, Soups and Salads, Meaty Meals, Meatless Mains, Vegetable and Desserts.

The dishes I anxiously want to try next are Hummus, Currant Cottage Cheese Pancakes, Roasted Applesauce, Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad with Crunchy Seeds, Chickpea Stew with Saffron, Yogurt and Garlic Soup, Cauliflower Soup, Potato Soup with Fried Almonds, Shrimp Grits, Rosemary-Brined Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Chicken Thighs with Lemon, Grilled Port Burger, Cauliflower Steaks, Grilled Pizza, Kale Panini, Garlic Green Beans, Gratin of Zucchini, Rice and Onions with Cheese … there are so many more I’d like to try.

These recipes and techniques have changed the way I’m going to make bread, porridge and waffles; can’t wait to see other things I’ll learn as I make the dishes in this astonishing cook book.

I know I’ll be referring to this beautiful hardback book often for everyday and special occasions. I highly recommend this book for anyone who likes to cook and for those just starting out. There are a variety of cooking skills in this book. The ones I tried were easy and flavorful. Many of the ingredients can be found in your local grocery store. Another thing to love about the recipes!

Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com

INSPIRALIZED by ALI MAFFUCCI REVIEWED


Inspiralized
By Ali Maffucci
Published by
ISBN#978-0-8041-8683-4
224 Pages

Back Cover: The definitive cookbook for using a spiralizer: the kitchen gadget that turns vegetables and fruits into imaginative, low-carb dishes.

On her wildly popular blog, Inspiralized, Ali Maffucci is revolutionizing healthy eating. Whether you’re low-carb, gluten-free, Paleo, or raw, you don’t have to give up the foods you love. Inspiralized shows you how to transform more than 20 vegetables and fruits into delicious meals that look and taste just like your favorite indulgent originals. Zucchini turns into pesto spaghetti; jicama becomes shoestring fries; sweet potatoes lay the foundation for fried rice; plantains transform into “tortillas” for huevos rancheros.

Ali’s recipes for breakfast, snacks, appetizers, sandwiches, soups, salads, casseroles, rices, pastas, and even desserts are easy to follow, hard to mess up, healthful, and completely fresh and flavorful. Best of all, she tells you how to customize them for whatever vegetables you have on hand and whatever your personal goal may be—losing weight, following a healthier lifestyle, or simply making easy meals at home.

Here, too, are tons of technical tips and tricks; nutritional information for each dish and every vegetable you can possibly spiralize; and advice for spiralizing whether you’re feeding just yourself, your family, or even a crowd. So bring on a hearty appetite and a sense of adventure—you’re ready to make the most of this secret weapon for healthy cooking.

REVIEW: I could totally relate to Ali’s dilemma about eating too much pasta, being Italian and having family dinners filled with lots of pasta. Ali’s mom developed Type 1 diabetes. She was determined to change the way she ate. When she was in N.Y. eating at a restaurant they served the most amazing zucchini noodle. She brought the restaurant’s cook book and discovered the spiralizer. Ali’s mom invited her over to eat this amazing zucchini noodle. Ali was floored…”what I tasted was the same lovely consistency of al dente pasta. I was captivated!” Her mom saw this as a pasta replacement but Ali saw so much more. She saw a way to be creative with vegetables at every meal. The author says that once you catch onto how versatile veggies can become you’ll look around and say, “Can I spiralize that?” I found her journey interesting and the meals inside this book just as intriguing.

She first talks about the four things that a vegetable needs to have to be a good candidate for spiralizing. Funny there is one major exception to the rules and that is with Eggplant. “Because of its soft flesh and tiny seeds, it won’t work well.” She goes on to list fruit and veggies that work great. She talks about what needs to be done to prep them and then choosing your blade to make the dish work.

She talks about storage of the vegetables in the refrigerator and freezer for planning ahead meals. The author says, “Spiralizing is for all ages, diet lifestyles and cooking skill levels. Even a college student in a dorm can make a big bowl of pasta using a spiralizer and a microwave.”

There are many beautiful color pictures sprinkled throughout this paperback book. The ingredients and simple instructions are easy to read. The ingredients are ones you find in any grocery store. In the top left hand corner she has some helpful information. She has the serving size, Time to Prepare, Time to Cook and the nutritional information for the recipe that includes: Calories, Fa, Carbohydrates, Sodium, Protein, and sugar for the stated portion size.

She rates each recipe for cooking level. !) Very easy 2) Medium 3) Most difficult – many steps required. She also labels the meal as to it being V – Vegan VT – Vegetarian GF – Gluten-Free, P Paleo.

I made the Zucchini noodles and she is right they are amazing, I couldn’t get over the taste. I also made the sweet potato spiralizerized bun. Both were yummy. My whole family loved them.

The recipes I look forward to trying are Breakfast: Cinnamon-Walnut Protein muffins, Huevos Rancheros. Snacks and Sides: The Spicy Jicama Strings (looked like fries- can’t wait to try that), Lemon Garlic Broccoli with Bacon, spicy Butternut Squash Nachos. Soups, Stews and Salads: I want to try the Chicken Carrot Noodle soup, Shrimp Daikon Pho, Steak and Pear Kale Salad, Apples with Saved Asparagus, Goranzola and Pecans. Sandwiches, Wraps and More: The Tilapia Tostados with Tomato – Corn Salsa; Apple-Potato Cheese Bun, Tuna Parsnip Portobello Melts: Rice Dishes – (fascinating section I can’t wait to try) Short Ribs with Sweet Potato “Grits”, Sweet Potato Fried Rice, Vegetarian Chana Masala with Kohlrabi Pasta and Noodles: I look forward to eating Bacon Casio e Pepe; Zucchini Linguine with Garlic Clam Sauce and oh, the Desserts look yummy!

I’m excited about incorporating more veggies in my family meals. I know it will be a win win for everyone; especially when they taste good and they are easy to make. I don’t have the fancy machine mentioned in this book. I bought a plastic devise in the grocery store. It only cost $9.99 and I can make almost all the meals in this book. I’m not sure where to purchase the Spiralizer but if I make a few more dishes I love I’m going to find out!

I received a review copy of this book for my honest opinion from Blogging for Books website.

Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com

IT HAD TO BE YOU by SUSAN MAY WARREN REVIEWED

It Had to be You
By Susan May Warren
Published by Tyndale
ISBN#978-1-4143-7842-8
378 Pages

Back Cover: Eden Christiansen never imagined her role as her younger brother Owen’s cheerleader would keep her on the sidelines of her own life. Sure, it feels good to be needed, but looking after the reckless NHL rookie leaves little time for Eden to focus on her own career. She dreamed of making a name for herself as a reporter, but is stuck writing obits—and starting to fear she doesn’t have the chops to land a major story. If only someone would step up to mentor Owen . . . but she knows better than to expect help from team veteran and bad-boy enforcer Jace Jacobsen.

Jace has built his career on the infamous reputation of his aggressive behavior—on and off the ice. Now at a crossroads about his future in hockey, that reputation has him trapped. And the guilt-trip he’s getting from Eden Christiansen isn’t making things any easier. But when Owen’s carelessness leads to a career-threatening injury and Eden stumbles upon a story that could be her big break, she and Jace are thrown together . . . and begin to wonder if they belong on the same team after all.

REVIEW: I was captivated by book one; Take a Chance on Me; which made me anxious to read book two in the series, It Had to Be You. This series is about the Christiansen family. Each book focuses on a different family member; in this book we get to know Eden and Owen Christiansen. The story is told through Eden’s eyes. One thing about the Christiansen’s they are loyal and they have each other’s back. Eden starts to realize that the relationship she has with her brother Owen has to change. She understands this even more when a friend points something out and she reacts,…”I’m not obsessed. He’s my brother.”

“He takes up all the available space in your life. And you let him.”

…”I’m his big sister.”

“Right. Not his trainer. Not his coach, not his mother…You gotta show a little tough love here; Eden.”

This makes her take a hard look at her life. “Was she living her life and seeking her dreams? Or was she putting her life live on hold so her brother could achieve his dreams? She cheered him on and lost sight of her calling?”

Her brother was not walking out his heritage of faith but living reckless and his life was spinning out of control. He was about to lose what he’s worked so hard to achieve. Eden didn’t understand what was going on with him.

Jace, hockey team captain is stuck in a rut. He’d lost the love of the game. He didn’t want to keep Owen and the other newbies on track motivated. He wasn’t a babysitter. So what was his role? How did he get them to jell and become a team? The media painted him as a womanizer, who’s self-centered; an uncaring individual. They weren’t right about him. They didn’t know the whole story and he wasn’t about to tell them. It would get lost in translation anyway.

Eden sees a totally different side of Jace when she learns about his relationship with Sam and his young daughter Maddy. His friend has a huge struggle. Jace tries to be there for his friend and help when he can. Sam says to Jace in the hospital, “All this time I thought it was up to me to make sure Maddy got a heart, kept her heart. And yes, she’s my child. But it was right there all the time.”…I’ve been holding on so hard to God in all this. But I think I’m supposed to let go – and Ask God to hold onto me. To pick me up like I do Maddy and carry me. I can’t do it anymore. I’ve been angry and stubborn and I need a new heart as badly as Maddy does. I’m tired of trying to fix it. I can’t do it. And I don’t think I’m supposed to”…I’m sitting here letting go. Putting my daughter into the hands of the Lord. Believing his plans are greater than mine.”

While in the hospital Eden and Jace stumble upon a person she feels compelled to help. Jace and Eden embark on a journey to uncover a mystery there; someone’s life is on the line. They need answers fast. There findings could be Eden’s big break in the newspaper business.

I’ll never forget doing the very thing Sam did with my child went into heart surgery! This is what I love about this story. It’s transparent and raw. It’s real people facing some impossible situations in a simplistic, impossible ways. They are not super spiritual or pie in the sky but honest in dealing with what comes their way. Get out the tissues for this one. This story touched my heart on so many levels and is a situation I won’t soon forget.

I highly recommend it as a Great read that it would make a wonderful book club pick. There is so much to talk about. This author also has 15 discussion questions for you to dig deeper into this story and its characters. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series and learn about another member in the Christiansen family.

BONUS STORY INCLUDED – it’s about the parents INGRID and JOHN CHRISTIANSEN LOVED this novella titled I Really Do Miss Your Smile.

The story starts out with how the Christiansen parents met each other. It wasn’t love at first site for John Christiansen. His family owned the Evergreen Lake Resort. It was a place where families vacationed every year. It kind of reminded me of the Dirty Dancing movie where families went on vacation and had fun activities for all. Ingrid had a sister named Kari that was very different than she was. Kari was older and experienced; Ingrid was the younger innocent one. It also reminded me of It’s a Wonderful Life in the fact that John was out to see the world. He had to get out of Deep Haven. Ingrid loved that Deep Haven was a small town; she wanted to raise her family there. George Bailey was bound and determined to leave the small town he grew up in. Mary went away to college but looked forward to coming back to her small town to life out her days. That was the struggle between Ingrid and John too. This is an emotional gripping read that will pull at your heart strings and have you rejoice at the end!

I received a review copy from the Book Club Network www.bookfun.org for my honest opinion.

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com