Saturday, December 3, 2016

Netgalley Review: Everybody loves Ramen

Everybody Loves Ramen is the perfect gift for a high school graduate, college student, single friend living on a tight budget, or anyone who remembers the days when a package of ramen was haute cuisine.

As a college student, Eric Hites learned just how far he could stretch a dollar by combining a package of ramen noodles with some odd ingredients out of his nearly bare kitchen cupboards and a little imagination. Living on a tight budget, Hites and his friends spent many nights of fun, laughter, and experimentation figuring out how they could concoct original, cheap yet tasty meals from the only food they could truly afford: ramen noodles.

My Review:

This book is made up of four things: Recipes, magazine-style games, stories from people who have strong ramen memories, and ramen fun facts.

I appreciate that the ramen recipes stay true to the spirit of ramen: they're all cheap and most of the ingredients can be stored without a refrigerator. But what really sets this book apart from other college recipe books is the crosswords and word searches that you can fill out while those noodles are boiling. There are also little areas where you can fill out your experience making each recipe,
I like Ramen, but I don't need a ramen diary. 
Overall, this was a cute and well thought out little recipe book. And for ten bucks, why not? It has a good two months of recipes in it. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Coloring book review: All is bright

The perfect gift for the creatives and coloring-book lovers in your life! Includes bonus activities and kid-friendly coloring pages for the whole family!
This Christmas season, celebrate the birth of our Savior through beautiful design and devotion. Grab your colored pencils, cozy up with your favorite blanket and a cup of tea, and settle in for a night of peace and wonder with All Is Bright. For lovers of the Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest coloring books, All Is Bright is the perfect way to transform the Advent and Christmas seasons for your whole family, re-centering the holidays on the miracle of Jesus’ birth. Combining 31 days of rich content by the beloved and inspirational Nancy Guthrie with intricate designs that will reconnect you with the heart of Christ, this coloring book devotional journey reminds us all of what the season really calls us to: worship.

My Review:

I'm all about coloring books. I also happen to be ALL ABOUT CHRISTMAS. Honestly, though, after I received a coloring book/devotional/journal, this was just....mundane. A sort of been there-done that kind of book. The pictures were fun to color and look nice on refrigerators. You can use pencil, pen, or marker on the pages but I haven't experimented with water colors yet.

A lovely gift for someone who likes god and Christmas and coloring.

But...I'm really frustrated because it's just not special. There is nothing defining about this that would make me say 'get this one, not that one' because it's exactly the same as any other coloring book.

For eleven dollars, it's fine. Good, even. Just don't go blowing your bank account on it. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Netgalley Review: Hot, Holy, and Humorous

Do you want to be a hottie in the bedroom without sacrificing holiness? How can you make the most of God’s gift of sexual intimacy in marriage?
Wrongful thinking and behaviors regarding sex permeate our culture. Christians need to reclaim sexuality and enjoy it in the way God intended.
God does not shy away from the subject of sex. The Bible shows a better way in every area—including the marital bedroom.
In Hot, Holy, and Humorous, author J. Parker gives candid advice for wives from a foundation of faith with a splash of humor.
This book can boost your sex savvy and improve your marital intimacy. And guess what? With God’s perfect design, you and your spouse can enjoy the most amazing sex!

My Review:

While there are references to love and lovemaking in the bible, there aren't exactly a lot of hot and steamy passages, or any detail about trivial marriage things, like how Abram and his wife decided (probably together, I don't see any woman making such a decision on her own) that he should sleep with someone else for the good of the future. 
There are many (perhaps too many) references to Star Trek in the first chapter of Hot, Holy and Humorous. While I appreciate the first chapter describing how to spark common romance in the relationship, the constant Star Trek references took away from it. As it so happens, I'm the less romantic one in our relationship and I don't like the implication that I'm an emotionless alien.
But it got better. Parker breaks down how to write a love letter you don't totally hate, and mentions that if it makes the great poets roll in their graves your mate will likely love it anyway. 
Between common obstacles that spoke directly to my heart like having totally off sleeping schedules, not knowing how to buy lingerie, being okay with more than the missionary position, and how to initiate sex, I felt like Parker was the best friend I never had. The whole book being centered on God was a bonus.
My favorite idea: having sex in a homemade fort. 
This book did have more to-the-point descriptions and diagrams involved, which I appreciated. I'd actually probably give this book to my daughter when she's of age. But if you blush easy, you might want to stay away.

Monday, November 21, 2016

NetGalley Review: The Christmas Tree

The classic New York Times–bestselling tale of friendship, generosity, and the magic and wonder of the Christmas spirit
On his annual search for Rockefeller Center’s next Christmas tree, the chief gardener spots an ideal candidate: a stately Norway spruce located on the grounds of a convent. There he meets Sister Anthony, a nun for whom the tree has special meaning. Orphaned and sent to the convent as a lonely young girl, Sister Anthony befriended the then-tiny spruce whom she lovingly named “Tree.” Over the following decades, as the tree grew, so did Sister Anthony’s appreciation for the beauty and wonder of nature.
She is reluctant to see her oldest and closest friend chopped down and sent away to New York City. But when a fierce blizzard threatens the old tree’s existence, Sister Anthony realizes it’s time to let the world enjoy Tree as she has for nearly her whole life.
Accompanied by charming illustrations and a new introduction by the author, The Christmas Tree is a heartwarming story of love and friendship, a modern holiday classic for all ages.

My Review:

This is the story of a very lonely little girl, her tree, and a city man who doesn't even know he loves Christmas.

I love the whole format and flow of this story so much, I can't even say my natural bias because I love Christmas is even affecting it...much.

The story itself starts out with the guy in charge of Christmas in New York sees the perfect tree. It's settled in a little plot of paradise, carefully created and maintained by a man who loved beauty and the nuns who came to live there. Sister Anthony didn't start out wanting to be a nun, but during the story you get to see into her past and find out why her relationship with Tree is so special. This is a great story to read a little bit at a time in the days counting down to Christmas, whether you are in New York or not.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

NetGalley Review: Meditation for Moms and Dads

Meditation Practice for Moms and Dads: 108 Tips for Parents and Caregivers boldly claims that a thriving meditation practice is not only possible, but an absolute must for the parent/householder. It isn't an empty claim. The author, Shana Smith, is doing it. Her journey is profound, funny, and fabulous. This entertaining combination of tips, real-parent stories, and poetry demonstrates that parents can squelch the mindset of ""I can't"" to ""I will,"" and celebrate the opportunity to embrace parenthood and worldly life itself as a vital spiritual practice. "

My Review:

This book starts out with a brief introduction to meditation and great tips to combat those swirling thoughts that jump on you now that you've slowed down enough to think them. 

The tips themselves are a little new age, but not bad. I don't think I'll be explaining meditation to my kid as "seeing fairies in the forest" and no, I don't have guilt over sitting her in front of Peg + Cat for a half hour of quiet. What really bugged me was the art. Every few pages there are stick figure drawings. I'm not sure if her kids made them, but I wasn't expecting art at all in this book. If anything, the art in the book should match the art on the cover. 

Between the wording and passages that don't quite fit with my religious beliefs and the stick figure drawings (seriously...why?) I'm going to say skip this book. There are plenty of other meditation sources in the world, my favorite of which is visual or guided meditation. Look it up on youtube.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Author Idols Book review: Brilliant Cut

What do you do when home is a person, not a place?
Where do you go when the person is gone?

Desperate for a new beginning, Sophie Cavall trades Manhattan for Brooklyn, where she meets someone new. He's a fun-loving man, hardworking and good with kids, but a run-in with her former flame revives a yearning Sophie thought was long buried.

Even if it meant facing death alone, Oliver Black did the only thing he could think of to keep the woman he loves safe and out of the limelight: break her heart. 
But this time, there's no way in hell Oliver is letting her go.

The real enemy is closing in. The last piece of the puzzle may prove to be the most dangerous of all. 

In the third and final installment to the Diamond in the Rough series, Elisa Marie Hopkins explores love, loss, forgiveness, and the perseverance of two characters facing extraordinary challenges. There might just be light at the end of the tunnel…

My Review:

My author idols rarely let me down, and Elisa is no exception. She took an interesting turn in this installment of DITR, which is always a risk but turned out well. My husband actually was more interested in this book when I talked to him than any other book (by that I mean he said more than 'hmm' when I went on a rant.) 

I was pretty intrigued while reading the last chapter of book 2 about how Elisa would pull off Hablinski, but she did rather well. I have the pleasure of being married to a conspiracy theorist so none of what came up was new. XD 

You know that moment when you're about 90% through the book and everything is awesome and you have this profound feeling of dread and anticipation because it's too perfect and something either has to go dreadfully wrong or become terribly anticlimactic? You get that feeling in this book.

There were also some lovely moments in the book that took me back to my own early days in my marriage, as well as the typical cheesy moments in Sophie's vocabulary. Overall, it's still early in Hopkins' career but she's off to a great start.

Monday, November 14, 2016

booklook bloggers review: With all due respect

With All Due Respect is a handbook for parents navigating the difficulties of the tween and teen years. Roesner and Hitchcock help parents identify what successful relationships look like and give easy-to-follow lessons in enforcing rules, communicating lovingly, resetting relationships, overcoming fears and exhaustion, and handling rebellion. Each day features a story every mom can relate to, down-to-earth questions to think about, and a prayer to launch an action plan. As a result, the reader gains new skills and perspective, greater strength, and an ability to live out faith daily as never before. With All Due Respect is for all parents seeking not only to connect more deeply with and positively impact their teens and tweens, but also to grow more deeply in faith through the process.

My Review:

I expected about the same that I read online about tweens: give them space, but lay down the law. Mold their behavior to 'respectable' standards. I was given a refreshing change starting with the first chapter that stated "look at yourself first."

There were certain times in this book that I wished it was a little less faith based. I understand the need for god, but one chapter in particular made me feel like I wasn't a 'good enough' Christian. It asked questions like 'do you solve problems with the bible', 'do you make your family go to church', are you a 'scriptural parent' or a 'devotional parent'? Had there been a few more options like 'do you tend to give things to God when you can't do it yourself' or 'do you talk to your child about God without pushing your religion on your kids.' would have let me check a few boxes.

Overall, I liked the book. I had to internally edit, as this book made it pretty clear that 'as a mother you spend more time with your kids'. When I work my 80 hours and my husband is the stay at home parent. It is a book I'll keep around in the event I need it when my 2 year old turns 12, but it's not one I'm running to get for any friends or Family.