Around the World in 80 Tales by Dave Tomlinson

Blurb:
TRAVEL TURNED ME INTO A STORYTELLER
To travel the world is an amazing experience. I’ve spent years traveling alone along popular tourist trails and to remote travel destinations far beyond them. Each travel experience is an adventure and each adventure gives with a story to tell. Fascinating travel memoirs deserve to be shared so one day I decided that I’d write 80 of my best travel stories.

After leaving me speechless, my world travel then turned me into a storyteller!

I’ve found that adventure travel on a budget is a kaleidoscope of people, places, events, history, culture, food and fun. Through the pages of my travel book, I’ll bring it all to life for you. The collection of short stories is fascinating, inspiring, amusing and amazing. Collectively, they are an insight into the wonderful highs and gritty realities of traveling the world on a budget.
This is a collection of stories from different places the author has visited. Each story is long enough to give a feeling of location, but probably short enough to fit into a blog post. It was easy to read but felt a bit disjointed as the locations aren't presented in the order of how he visited them, and are fairly randomized in the book. Having said that, the randomized order by the author was intentional.

The stories themselves are good, though, and some were very informative. His visit to Tennant Creek in Australia is a reminder to always pay up if you use facilities in a new location without permission and his trip to Gujarat, India, warns of eating strange foods and strange places. For the most part, he finds that the people from different cultures are welcoming and helpful. The single accompanying photo shows what stood out for him on each trip, and each locale was well described.

In each city Tomlinson highlights the things that stood out with the people and landscape, surroundings if in a city, and a little history if he learns it. This is a travel book that is appropriate for kids and adults alike.

Book Info:


+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

Bum Luck by Paul Levine


Blurb:

A fast paced story and a really great read. The story line began with the improbable decision by a lawyer to kill his client, and by the time the middle of the story came around I was hooked and read straight through to the end.

Jake Lassiter is a lawyer who's seemingly a shark and one who will win at all costs, but really wants to find redemption in his life. He not only believes his client is guilty and wants a way to even the score, but he is caught up in a scandal where he looks guilty as hell, and the clock is ticking to prove his innocence. He is former pro football player who has had numerous head injuries leading his friends and family to believe there is a relationship between the swift change in his behavior and previous (and current) concussions.

I loved the story line, and the pace that it's written. It was funny and smart, two great additions to any mystery. This book is the second in the series Lassiter, Solomon & Lord, and I'm guessing the next book will be as good as this one.

Book Information:
This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own.


+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

A Rebel Among Us (Renegade #3) by J.D.R.Hawkins


Blurb:
After David Summers enlists with the Confederate cavalry, his delusion of chivalry is soon crushed when he witnesses the horrors of battle. Shot by a Union picket, he winds up at a stranger’s farm. Four girls compassionately nurse him back to health. David learns his comrades have deserted him in Pennsylvania following the Battle of Gettysburg, but his dilemma becomes much worse. He falls in love with the older sister, Anna, who entices him with a proposition. To his dismay, he must make a decision. Should he stay and help Anna with her underhanded plan, or return to the army and risk capture?
For a girl who likes history, reading about life during the Civil War was just icing on the cake for this sweet romance. The story really was engaging and well written, and I could picture myself in that time period. Very well researched and detailed, and it was pretty honest of how slaves and freed men were treated back then. I don't know why this stuck with me, but in other fiction books I've read of the Civil War, when it came to the issue of slaves, the South was bad and the North was good and treated all freed slaves as free white men, which wasn't always the case. 

It begins with a family of girls in Union territory finding a Confederate soldier injured, and how they nurse him back to health. The oldest sister gets him to stay one time, then asks him to stay longer with a proposition. Great story line and the characters were all likable. While Anna and David were the main characters, Maggie, the younger sister, and Patrick, a neighbor, helped make the story better.

I loved this book! It's a longer book, so she has the time to work in details from her research. This was the first book I've ready by J.D.R. Hawkins, and I look forward to reading more historical pieces from this author.



Book Info:
  • A Rebel Among Us by J.D.R. Hawkins
  • 2016; Foundations, LLC; Second Edition edition.
  • 563 pages; ebook and paperback editions.


+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

The Meals to Heal Cookbook by Susan Bratton and Jessica Iannotta

Blurb:
From the founder and the chief operating officer of Meals to Heal (a company that provides vetted nutritional information and prepared meals delivery to cancer patients and their families): 150 nutritionally balanced recipes created with an eye toward the special needs of cancer patients (e.g. mouth sores, nausea, and difficulty swallowing) who often suffer from malnutrition.
I loved this book. I read and reviewed this for my personal blog and also shared a great recipe from it: Parchment Paper Steamed Fish and Vegetables.

My summary, "If you are on a cancer treatment path that includes chemo, then this is the perfect book to have in the kitchen. No empty promises for an easy ride through treatment (because there isn’t one), just real world, wholesome recipes that provide nutrients making you stronger - and presented in a way that tackles your side effects and manages your symptoms. Highly recommended read." Read the review below.

The Meals to Heal Cookbook: 150 Easy, Nutritionally Balanced Recipes to Nourish You During Your Fight with Cancer by Susan Bratton and Jessica Iannotta.

Book Information:

 

Book Information:

 Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own.



+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I read this via an audiobook, and am so glad I did. The three women reading it made this psychological thriller really hard to put down. And with them in character, each made me feel a little something more.

Blurb:
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. "Jess and Jason," she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good? Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.
A mystery and whodunit in one, this was a great example of what a classic Hitchcock film was like when I watched them as a kid. No jump out at you moments or gory details; just a smooth and completely engrossing tale of a woman who suffers alcoholic blackouts who thinks she knows what she sees. As the book progresses, I ended up with a pity-hate relationship with her: she was so screwed up that her actions were both pitiful and made you angry at the same time reading it.

While most books you can tell a little bit about the plot without giving it away, this book is a true 'read it for yourself' one. If you are an Audible member, Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, India Fisher all did a superb job of telling the story of the three women in the book.



Book Information:


Disclosure: Amazon links.
 



+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

Panda Inn Calendar 2001 Cookbook



A quick review of an old cookbook calendar from 2001. Twelve classic Chinese recipes from the Panda Inn restaurant. The review and the recipe for the Firecracker Chicken are on the Cookbook Papers.



+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

Protein Ninja: Power Through Your Day with 100 Hearty Plant-Based Recipes that Pack a Protein Punch by Terry Hope Romero



Protein is a major building block of your body. A protein rich diet helps curb hunger but it also helps with muscle loss. Terry Hope Romero's Protein Ninja provides over 100 different recipes packed with protein from breakfast to dessert and every meal in between. My full review is over on Sand and Succutash: Protein Ninja by Terry Hope Romero, and includes the recipe for Button Up White Bean Gravy, a delicious and satisfying gravy served over biscuits for a total comfort food dish.

Book Information:



+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

Soupelina's Soup Cleanse - by Elina Fuhrman


Soupelina's Soup Cleanse is a cookbook dedicated to plant-based soups and broths to 'heal your body, calm your mind, and transform your life.'



Book Blurb:
With easy and filling recipes, Soupelina's Soup Cleanse has something for every palate and every person. From blended soups like "Easy Peas-y" for breakfast and the cleansing "Fennel Hurrah"; to chunky soups like the Asian-inspired "I Will be Bok, Choy!" and "Beet the Heat," a spin on all things fermented; to broths like the antiviral and immune-boosting "Pho Sho" and "Don't Kvass Me Any More Questions" from her family's Russian roots, Soupelina's Soup Cleanse will bring the power of soup - and the pleasure of soup - to kitchens across the country.

I loved this book. Read the full review and try the quinoa and bean chili, "It's Chili and It's Hot," from the Sand and Succotash blog. The recipe is included.



+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

The Darkest of Suns Will Rise Book 1 by Brian Sfinas



Book Blurb:
Two hundred years in our future, mankind has made contact with a nigh-omniscient, pacifistic alien race known as The Prognosticate. With the help of these extraterrestrial visitors we have been able to solve the problems of overpopulation and disease. The Earth is recovering from our impact and our civilization is in a state of prosperity, united under the Alliance of Earthly Nations. Peace, however, is not in our nature.

The Darkest of Suns Will Rise tells the story of Aiden DeCaro and Clarissa Blue, the captain of a near-Earth defense ship and his damaged counterpart. The Orphanage, a loose collection of terrorist cells populated with religious zealots, destroys a merchant vessel while it moves through an AEN-protected trade route. Aiden's ship is the closest to the incident when it happens and when it's discovered that the Orphans are using Alliance military codes to nullify observation satellites and intercept civilian ships undetected, eyes turn toward Aiden.
So, let's say all problems regarding overpopulation and human's impact on Earth are solved, super robots were created in tiny, nanite forms to fix all the nasty things we could ever do to ourselves, and war was something we could avoid - would we be happy? The answer is no when information is withheld, even when it's a positive outcome. From the book: Throughout history, mankind has proven that you can keep docile and ultimately destroy entire civilizations simply by withholding knowledge from them. The alien race helping us also hauntingly invades our thoughts, and not everyone is playing nicely with them. The Prog believe only in reason and the Orphanage terrorist cells still believe in religion.

It's a little dark in places, but the extreme actions of the characters are strangely warranted. Humans live in a world where there are no real problems, and Clarissa needs Aiden's violent nature to feel anything in the apathetic life she lives.

The book is written in a series of journal entries by different characters, and every point of view gives another clue as to why the Orphanage terrorist cells exist. Even though the alien race has seemingly saved us from ourselves, the terrorist group IS humanity. But if the Orphanage succeeds it will most likely lead to humanity's eventual downfall. It's in our nature. Which makes for a good twisted read.

It's hard to categorize this book (dystopian, science fiction, mystery), so I won't and will just say it is a refreshing read from the usual cleanly written 'beginning-middle-ending' fiction novels. I have to say that I'm pretty good at figuring out and predicting the ending in mysteries though, (spoiler here) but the ending in this one made me re-read the entire book for clues as to whether Clarissa knew who the captain was from the very beginning.

All in all, a super read. More from this author: The Sexual Adventures of Time and Space.



Book Info:

Disclosure: This book was provided by the author, and any opinions are my own.


+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

The CSA Cookbook: No-Waste Recipes for Cooking Your Way Through a Community Supported Agriculture Box, Farmers’ Market, or Backyard Bounty


Growing unique and new veggies is sometimes the same as opening up the latest box from your local CSA (community sponsored agriculture) – you have all this new fresh stuff and can’t figure out what to do with it. And while the author, Lindy Ly, doesn’t go into too crazy of vegetable territory here, she does make use of the unique tasting and most often disposable parts of foods we take in every day into our kitchens: tomato leaves and stems; pepper leaves; fennel fronds; radish seed pods and leaves; sweet potato leaves; herb blossoms; nasturtium pods. And more.

For the full review of this garden cookbook, read it on Cultivate to Plate - The CSA Cookbook. Enjoy! 


+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

Daily Greens 4-Day Cleanse by Shauna Martin


In her preface, Martin painfully details all the instances where her cancer may have originated - and that should be a wake up call for all readers. Pesticides and toxins are everywhere, from overly processed and packaged foods to make life easy, to the simple sprays gardeners use to give their vegetables an invisible shield from insects and pests. She gained insight from her research into cancer and also studying Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Cancer series.


Read the full cookbook review on the Cookbook Papers: Daily Greens 4-Day Cleanse: Jump Start Your Health, Reset Your Energy, and Look and Feel Better Than Ever.



+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

The Geeky Chef Cookbook by Cassandra Reeder



New on the Cookbook Papers: The Geeky Chef Cookbook by Cassandra Reeder, "The Geeky Chef." More than simply recreating a recipe from the typical influences, Reeder delves into the character (or book or game) and really creates something unique. My favorite was her salmon and pumpkin dish from The Legend of Zelda.

Read the full review on the Cookbook Papers: The Geeky Chef Cookbook: Real Live Recipes From Your Favorite Fantasy Foods.



+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

Firewall by DiAnn Mills



Blurb:
After a whirlwind romance, Taryn Young is preparing to board a plane at Houston International Airport, bound for a dream honeymoon, when a bomb decimates the terminal. Injured but still alive, she awakens to discover her husband is missing and they’re both considered prime suspects in the attack. Further, the FBI is convinced her husband isn’t who he appears to be.

Agent Grayson Hall’s number-one priority is to catch those responsible for the day’s act of terror. All evidence is pointing to Taryn and her new husband. But his instinct tells him her pleas of innocence are genuine. Is her naiveté just for show, or could she truly be another victim of a master scheme, possibly linked to the software she recently developed for her company?

With both their lives and reputations on the line, and the media outcry for justice increasing with each passing minute, Taryn and Grayson have no choice but to trust one another . . . and pray they can uncover the truth before they become two more casualties.
Firewall is a suspense read, and it is book one in a three part series about the FBI in Houston. The opening begins with an airport terminal explosion. The main character wakes up with fingers pointing to her as the cause, and her new husband is MIA. The FBI agent on the case is left with the possibility that the woman involved is actually innocent. They get together (of course, it's a romance) but it's a clean read.

I love a good thriller, and this fit the bill for light summer reading. It is a Christian suspense, so expect references.

Book Information:

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own. Amazon links to support this site, thanks. :)



+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

10th Anniversary Edition of Vegan with a Vengeance

Vegan with a Vengeance: Celebrating 10 Years of Vegan Domination by Isa Chandra Moskowitz is out and it kicks butt.



I've reviewed it on my blog Sand and Succotash, and included the recipe for Garlicky Kale with Tahini Dressing, too.
10 years ago, Isa Chandra Moskowitz put out a vegan cookbook that upended the typical stereotype of vegan cuisine with the emphasis on liberated and inexpensive vegan cooking. The original Vegan with a Vengeance contained a stockpile of recipes that were animal-free, and both tasted and looked great on the plate. 10 years later, she celebrates the anniversary with an updated version that contains ‘streamlined ingredients’ and ‘easier directions.’ And while it has many new recipes in the new book, the core feel is still the same – that cooking is fun and shouldn’t be complicated. Especially if you’re vegan.

Read the full review and try the recipe: Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

Knife Skills: Helpful Book Showing Care and Use of Kitchen Knives

An overview of Knife Skills Knife Skills: An Illustrated Kitchen Guide to Using the Right Knife the Right Way by Bill Collins.
The first two chapters are perfect for those just learning about cutting tool. But probably the most important chapter for anyone is how to care for knives - so you can learn how to properly clean, store, and sharpen the knives. For those who already have a good set or sets in their cabinet, it is a good primer on keeping kitchen knives in top condition.



 Read the review on the Cookbook Papers.