Saturday, September 27, 2014

Luxe Home Essentials Microfiber Kitchen Dish Towels Review


I spend the good majority of my time in my kitchen. I love to cook and even if I didn't, I feel it is necessary to cook when I can for my family because of the current state of our "food" supply. Being in the kitchen cooking 3 meals a day makes for a lot of dishes and a lot of messes so I need good cleaning tools to help me get my kitchen back in order for the next round of cleaning. Luxe Home Essentials Microfiber Kitchen Dish Towels are the perfect towels to have in your kitchen. They come in a pack of 3, which is awesome for when you need to have a towel or two in the wash, you always have a backup! These dish towels are made out of microfiber cloth which can absorb up 10 times it's weight in water, making it perfect for cleaning up big messes. It also makes a great towel for cleaning and drying dishes. I have been using these multiple times daily since they arrived and I don't see that slowing down any time soon. I absolutely recommend getting a set of these (very affordable) microfiber kitchen dish towels on Amazon.com. They only come in white, which is my only complaint. I wish they came in multiple colors so they could be matched to each individual's kitchen  decor (ours is olive green and eggplant purple), but if they have to come in just one color, white is definitely  as neutral as you can get. I am happy to have found towels durable enough to clean all of my kitchen counters (I have a lot of space and it can take multiple rags to get the whole kitchen clean). It is nice to get the kitchen clean in one swoop!

*I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Finding Mr. Darcy (High School Edition) Blog Tour & Book Review + Enter to Win a Copy of the Book & an Amazon Gift Card!

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via YA Bound Book Tours. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 


About the book-

Sixteen-year-old Liza Johnson takes fangirl to a whole new level of crazy when she decides to take dating advice from her literary hero: Jane Austen.

With the help of her best friends, Liza sheds her ancient-speak and complete Austen wardrobe for something a bit more modern in an attempt at finding her very own Mr. Darcy.

Enter Will, the new kid and Liza's Darcy incarnate. Add her BFF's ex to mix and the sexy Brit who kisses with an accent, and Liza is in trouble.

So, what's a girl to do? Without her mom to go to relationship advice, Liza turns to the only person she can truly trust with matters of the heart via her mother's copy of COMPLETED WORKS OF JANE AUSTEN.

It's too bad Austen's heroines have never played Spin the Bottle or Seven Minutes in Heaven. Liza's determined to find her true Austen-esque happy ending, but if she can't trust herself instead of books, she just might end up in her own tragic love story.


About the book-

I read this book in one setting after I put my kids to bed one night. It is not super long and it is quite engaging so it was an easy one to work my way through. As a Jane Austen fan, I was thrilled to see a book like this, aimed at high schoolers and about a high schooler who is an Austen super fan. I loved all of the references to Jane Austen books, which will hopefully lead  a new generation to Austen's beautiful, witty, romantic novels. This book is about Liza discovering the woes of dating and trying to figure out exactly what it is she wants in a guy. Using Mr. Darcy as the ultimate example, Liza has to decide who it is she wants to be with when she has several guys after her suddenly after feeling like she had never had any boys liking her before.  I really enjoyed going on Liza's journey with her whether she was at school or in England for a surprise trip. Any teenage girl (or woman who once was one of these creatures) will find herself relating to the inner dialogue in Liza's head about boys, what they want and what she wants. Finding Mr. Darcy is a fun, light read. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a romantic story line or young adult novels. 


About the Author-

Erin Butler is lucky enough to have two jobs she truly loves. As a librarian, she gets to work with books all day long, and as an author, Erin uses her active imagination to write the kinds of books she enjoys reading. Young Adult and New Adult books are her favorites, but she especially loves the ones with kissing scenes.

Erin lives in Central New York with her very understanding husband, a stepson, and doggie BFF, Maxie. She prefers to spend her time indoors reading and writing, but will venture out for chocolate and sunshine. She is the author of BLOOD HEX, a YA paranormal, HOW WE LIVED, a contemporary New Adult novel, and FINDING MR. DARCY: HIGH SCHOOL EDITION, a contemporary YA.
$10 Amazon Gift Card + ebook of Finding Mr. Darcy (INT)

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Friday, September 19, 2014

The Low-Sugar Cookbook by Nicola Graimes (Cookbook Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-


Most of us eat too much sugar, which can have serious repercussions on our health and well-being. It is widely accepted that a diet too high in sugar can cause mood swings, fatigue, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and even premature ageing. 

But eating low-sugar foods doesn't have to mean being condemned to a dull diet, as the wonderful range of recipes in this book demonstrates. 

The good news is that there are numerous naturally sweet foods and flavourings that can be substituted so that there's no need to resort to artificial sweeteners with their reported adverse health effects. Here, Nicola Graimes presents more than 100 easy-to-follow meals and snacks, inspired by recipes from around the world. 

Chapters are divided into Breakfasts, Brunches, Light Meals, Snacks, Dinners, Desserts, and Cakes, Bakes, Breads. You'll find delicious family favourites ranging from curries, stews, stir-fries and salads to sponge puddings, muffins and cheesecakes. Savoury foods can also be surprisingly high in added sugar, particularly canned foods and sauces, and you'll find specially adapted dishes for healthier, low-sugar alternatives. 

All the recipes have been carefully created to be suitable for diabetics to meet their dietary requirements. This means that they are also low in salt and saturated fat and high in unrefined carbohydrates and fibre – not forgetting packed with bountiful amounts of fresh produce. 

Clear at-a-glance symbols highlighting nutritional benefits provide an additional valuable feature.
My thoughts-
I am always looking for recipes that are sugar free or low on sugar. The problem I usually run into is that "sugar free" often equates to chemical laden artificial sweeteners which I won't touch with a ten foot pole (and neither should you. there is nothing healthy about them.) What I like about this book is that the recipes are all either no added sugar at all or if they do contain a sweetener it is something like xylitol or brown rice syrup, two alternatives to sugar that I am a-okay with. I thought that The Low-Sugar Cookbook was a pretty well rounded cookbook, full of recipes for all tastes. I can not decide whether my favorite section was breakfast or dessert, but there are so many great recipes that I can not wait to try. My only complaint would be that I feel like there is seafood overload in the dinner section, but I am sure many people will love that. I just don't happen to like seafood. My absolute favorite thing about this cookbook are the sample menus at the end of the book. It just goes to show that you can use these recipes regardless of what kind of diet you follow. There are sample menus for any type of diet you can think of- vegetarian, vegan. gluten-free, nut-free, ect. making the recipes appeal to quite a large audience. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for healthy yet tasty recipes. 
The Low-Sugar Cookbook by Nicola Graimes is available on Amazon.com.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Where Treetops Glisten (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Litfuse Group. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book: 

The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime
Siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories, filled with the wonder of Christmas
Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America's involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.
In Cara Putman's White Christmas, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements---until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help.
Abigail's brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theater in Sarah Sundin's I'll Be Home for Christmas,trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete's friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he's no longer the bully she once knew?
In Tricia Goyer's Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, "Merry" to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the frontline in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that's precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart.
The Turner family believes in God's providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ's birth and His plan for a future?

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/BwVP9

My thoughts-

I have been on a WWII reading kick lately. Where Treetops Glisten was probably 3rd or 4th in a hodge podge of different books on the subject that I have read. I am so glad I saved it for last! Novels set during any war, but maybe especially during this tumultuous time that is not that far off in the past, can be daunting and heartbreaking. I liked these stories for the great romantic aspect in them. They didn't sugar coat the war, but these stories were sweet and a light although set in such a dark time. I loved that  the stories in these three novellas interweave effortlessly and yet gave us three wonderful stories about the three separate siblings- Abigail, Pete and Merry. I thought all 3 stood well on their own and really added to the overall book. There were different things I liked about each story. In White Christmas I loved seeing Abigail overcome her fears of loving again and I enjoyed the mystery aspect of trying to figure out what happened to the money he had been sending home.  I couldn't put down the book when I was on I'll Be Home for Christmas. The sweet, feisty little girl Linnie got me interested in it and I thought that redemption and forgiveness (and of course a chance at love) were great themes. Finally, I am always excited to read novels (or a novella in this case) set in different countries. What I found interesting about Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas was the small glimpse we get into what life for an Army nurse on the front lines in Europe might have been like during the war. These women were very important and Tricia Goyer is so good at painting a picture with her words, that I felt like I was right there with Merry. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories about war time romance or that is interested in the WWII era or the 1940's.

About the authors-

TRICIA GOYER is a prolific author of nearly forty books, including Chasing Mona Lisa, and a speaker and blogger. 

CARA PUTMAN is the author of twenty books includingShadowed by Grace. She is the winner of the 2008 Carol Award for historical fiction. 

SARAH SUNDIN is the critically-acclaimed author of the Wings of the Nightingale series, the Wings of Glory series, and the forthcoming Waves of Freedom novels.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The New Indian Slow Cooker by Neela Paniz (Cookbook Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

The newest book in Ten Speed's best-selling slow cooker series, featuring more than 60 fix-it-and-forget-it recipes for Indian favorites. 

The rich and complex flavors of classic Indian dishes like Lamb Biryani, Palak Paneer, and chicken in a creamy tomato-butter sauce can take hours to develop through such techniques as extended braising and low simmering. In The New Indian Slow Cooker, veteran cooking teacher and chef Neela Paniz revolutionizes the long, slow approach to making Indian cuisine by rethinking its traditional recipes for the slow cooker.

She showcases the best regional curries, dals made with lentils and beans, vegetable and rice sides, as well as key accompaniments like chutneys, flatbreads, raita, and fresh Indian cheese. Using this fix-it-and-forget-it approach, you can produce complete and authentic Indian meals that taste like they came from Mumbai, New Delhi, and Bangalore, or your favorite Indian restaurant.

Featuring both classic and innovative recipes such as Pork Vindaloo, Kashmiri Potato Curry, Date and Tamarind Chutney, and Curried Chickpeas, these full-flavor, no-fuss dishes are perfect for busy cooks any day of the week.


My thoughts-
I love Indian food. I grew up in a household that ate it quite often and it is still to this day one of my favorite kinds of  food to eat. I have been trying for years to find good Indian recipes to make at home, but they can often be complicated and time consuming. I have never seen an entire cookbook dedicated to making Indian food in slow cooker, so I was beyond excited to see this one! I was even more stoked when I looked inside and saw the recipes. Not only are there great curries and vegetable dishes, but there are some great recipes in the front that explain to you how to make homemade yogurt and homemade paneer (an Indian cottage cheese that kind of reminds me of the shape and texture of tofu, but tastes so much better! It's especially great in a really good Tikka Masala!) There is still times in these recipes where there are several steps, but this is still lighter work than it would be if you were making Indian food the traditional way. I will say the time put in is worth the effort. I absolutely love that at the beginning of the book that there are several pages of explanations of spices, lentils, rice, flours and other ingredients commonly used in Indian food. That makes this a great book for an Indian food novice, but the familiar recipes make it a wonderful book for more experienced Indian food cooks as well. I absolutely recommend this cookbook to anyone that likes Indian food or who loves to experiment with new recipes and cuisines.

Connect with Neela Paniz on Goodreads
The New Indian Slow Cooker is available now on Amazon.com.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Prince Harry Brother, Soldier, Son by Penny Junor (Book Review)

*Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book-

The authoritative biography of Prince Harry by noted royal family biographer Penny Junor, author of Prince William: The Man Who Will Be King and The Firm: The Troubled Life of the House of Windsor.
 

Prince Harry, one of the most popular members of the British royal family, has had a colorful life. After losing his mother at 12 years old, he spent his teenage years making questionable choices under intense international media scrutiny, becoming known for his mischievous grin, shock of red hair, and the occasional not-so-royal indiscretion. As he's grown, he has distinguished himself through military service, flying helicopters for the RAF. He served in Afghanistan and continues to devote himself to his military career. He also follows in his mother's footsteps with charity work--he is the founder of Sentebale, a charity to help orphans in Lesotho, and works with many other charitable organizations to help young people in society and to conserve natural resources. As he reaches his thirtieth birthday, Prince Harry is proving himself a prince of the people. 

With unprecedented access to the most important figures in his life, Penny Junor is able get the truth about who this mercurial and fascinating royal son really is. A modern biography of a modern prince, this book offers an insider's look at the life of the man who is fourth in line to Britain's throne.


My thoughts-

I have always been interested in the royal family. Maybe it is because of the huge chunk of British ancestors that I have discovered through my genealogy research (several of them of royal blood themselves) or maybe I just find the whole idea of a monarchy intriguing. What little girl doesn't grow up dreaming of marrying a prince? One of the more interesting people from the house of Windsor is Prince Harry, but I realized that I truly don't know a lot about him, so I thought this would be a very interesting book to read. Prince Harry Brother, Soldier, Son spans Harry's entire life from before he was born to the present day. That means there is a lot of information about his parents, his brother William and his sister-in-law. Some of the information is rehashing of very public events, the wedding of Prince Charles to Diana, the births of both Harry and William, the ugly divorce of the prince and princess and the crash that ultimately took Diana's life. Some of these events offer a perspective on Prince Charles that I have never seen in the American media and make him far more likable and make me more sympathetic to his side of the story on several different things. The same can be said of Harry. Although he is a super likable guy already, some of the way that the media has portrayed him has made him out to be immature and careless and I feel like we get a better look at the prince as a whole. I especially like that the second half of the book focuses a great deal on his charity work and philanthropy. It is very evident to me that Prince Harry has inherited his mother's heart for changing the world. I really enjoyed reading Prince Harry Brother, Soldier, Son and getting a better picture of him as a whole. If you can get past the author's clear dislike of princess Diana, I think anyone interested in the royal family, the British monarchy or philanthropy will find this book particularly appealing. 

Prince Harry Brother, Soldier, Son by Penny Junor is available now on Amazon.com.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Christmas at Rose Hill Farm by Suzanne Woods Fisher Blog Tour & Book Review + Enter to Win a Kindle

I received a copy of the book from the publisher via the Litfuse Group in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

Bess Riehl is preparing Rose Hill Farm for her Christmas wedding, but her groom isn't who she thought it would be. Billy Lapp is far away from his Amish roots working as a rose rustler for Penn State and wants nothing to do with Stoney Ridge, his family, or Bess. And that suits Bess just fine. Why should she think twice about a man who left without a word, without any explanation? It's time she moved on with her life, and that meant saying yes to Amos Lapp, Billy's cousin and best friend. But as Bess and Amos's wedding day draws near, her emotions tangle into a tight knot. She loves Amos. Yet she can't forget Billy.

When a "lost" rose is discovered at Rose Hill Farm, Billy is sent to track down its origins. Get in, identify the rose, and get out. That's his plan. The only catch is that he's having a hard time narrowing down the identity of the lost rose, and he can't get those tropical blue eyes of Bess Riehl out of his mind.

As the history of the lost rose is pieced together, it reminds Bess and Billy--and Amos, too--that Christmas truly is the season of miracles.

Join bestselling, award-winning author Suzanne Woods Fisher for an Amish

Christmas to remember. Filled with heart-twisting moments amid the sweet anticipation of love, this story will charm readers into the holiday spirit.

My thoughts-

I haven't read an Amish fiction novel in a while so it was nice to not only have a book to read in a great genre, but also a book set around Christmas time. Although most of the book isn't necessarily centered around Christmas, it is definitely good at making you feel the spirit of the season. The majority of the book is about Bess trying to work out her feelings on the brink of her wedding to someone who wasn't her first choice, while the man who has always had her heart but disappeared has suddenly made an appearance back in her life. I can appreciate her dilemma and feel almost kind of bad for Bess when Billy shows back up to examine the unique rose, he is almost kind of aloof with her as he tries to fight his own feelings. My very favorite thing about Christmas at Rose Hill Farm are the interactions between Billy and George. They have only just met, but George keeps Billy on his toes and tells him exactly what he needs to hear time and time again. He encourages Billy, nudges him to do the things he needs to do. I really loved that entire story line in this book and how it concluded at the end of the story. I was rooting for Bess the entire story and was impressed by how brave she was to lay her feelings out there on the line the way she did several times. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good holiday book, Amish fiction or nice love story. 

About the author-

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Inn at Eagle Hill series, Lancaster County Secrets series, and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including “Amish Peace.” She is also the coauthor of an Amish children’s series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She is a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. For more information, please visit suzannewoodsfisher.com and connect with her on Twitter @suzannewfisher. Get Amish proverbs delivered right to your mobile device! Download the Free App! http://bit.ly/10Tygyi

Connect with Suzanne Woods Fisher on Facebook 
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********Enter to Win a Kindle!********

Don't miss Betsy St. Amant's latest fiction release, All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes. A "sweet" tale of two best friends and the choices they make between dreams and a possible "sure thing," St. Amant's novel is sure to satisfy your romantic-fiction craving.

cupcakes-400-click
Betsy is celebrating with a fun Kindle giveaway and a Love & Cupcakes Facebook party! One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle
  • All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 18th. Winner will be announced at the "Love & Cupcakes" Author Chat Party on 9/18. Betsy will be hosting a "sweet" book chat, giving away prizes, and answering questions from readers. She will also share an exclusive sneak peek at her next book project!

So grab your copy of All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes and join Betsy on the evening of September 18th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 18th!