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

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.


Building Soil: A Down-to-Earth Approach: Natural Solutions for Better Gardens & Yards By Elizabeth Murphy

Overall, a really great read for anyone needing or wanting to learn more about the soil they have. After all, a healthy soil produces healthy plants, and a lush garden is more than just watering plants. A productive garden comes with the understanding that the soil is a living thing, just like the things that grow in it.

Read the full review of Building Soil over at Cultivate to Plate - I really liked this garden soil book.

Building Soil: A Down-to-Earth Approach: Natural Solutions for Better Gardens & Yards By Elizabeth Murphy.

Shattered: Logan Book 1 by Valerie Davisson

Book Blurb
Meet Logan McKenna … fiercely loyal, and impossibly inquisitive. In SHATTERED, the first book in the original mystery series and stunning fiction debut with which Valerie Davisson lets us crave for more, Logan McKenna loses her husband, her illusions, the company they built together, her music, and now, probably her job. But that won’t stop her from digging into a murder investigation that keeps Southern California’s tight-knit artist community on its toes and law enforcement cluelessly guessing. At loose ends, and running out of money after buying a fixer upper on the coast, she decides to help out her best friend from high school, Thomas, a Native American artist, and his wife Lisa at their booth at the Otter Arts Festival, in the idyllic coastal town of Jasper, where she and her police-officer brother Rick grew up. When one of the talented, young artists is found gruesomely murdered at the festival, Logan is faced with the reality that her best friend not only lied to her, but may be guilty of murder. It’s up to her to find out what really happened that night, before the murderer kills again.
A good mystery is always good news, and the hint of a good series is always better. This is book one in a mystery series with a main character, Logan McKenna, thrown into the world of investigation. I loved her picking up and through all the clues. And Logan's own thoughts seemed to sum up why everyone is a suspect in a mystery, "Given enough provocation, anyone was capable of violence."

The story begins with a slow building of the main character's background to a highly addicting page turner. The scenery was detailed beautifully, and having lived in Orange County for a great many years, I loved every bit of her references to Southern California. It felt like I was back there. And I really liked Ben, her neighbor, and their relationship seemed genuine.

As you get into the story, it moves deftly between description and dialogue, and the back and forth play between characters was great. Logan has no formal crime investigation experience and I found myself thinking, yep, I'd probably do that, too. Her back story was tragic, but everything was believable. And when all things point to one conclusion, something engages Logan's memory and a new path is forged. Great mystery read, and a good start to a mystery series.

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

The Dangerous Effects of Reading: Consumption vs Creation

Love this post!

From the blog Certain Extent by David Tate:
If you quiet your mind and allow yourself to stop judging everything you will find that you have more potential for innovation (at work, in the kitchen, in the garage, in the bathroom [this just got weird – bringing it back], with your hobbies, with your thoughts) than you thought before.  You were using the same brutal quality filter on yourself that you used on viral videos, talk radio, and blog posts.  You deserve better.
Read the full article The Dangerous Effect of Reading. All about how to filter junk and create.

Carrots and Cake by Tina Haupert

Carrots 'N Cake is Tina Haupert's book listing her journey to transform her life into a healthier one, and has over 50 recipes and many healthy eating tips.


The cookbook based on her blog of the same name, Carrots 'N Cake, is Tina Haupert's journey to transform her life into a healthier one through better eating and exercise. She shares her tips on staying fit and eating healthy, and emphasizes that having fun is her key to being her own boss and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Norway Forest Planted For a Future Library

Via Vice, artist Katie Paterson has planted a 1,000 tree forest with the intention of them all being used for a special library of books made one year, every year, for a 100 years.
Scottish artist Katie Paterson has turned what sounds like a nonsensical question into a reality. She's planted a Future Library of 1,000 trees in a forest on the outskirts of Oslo, Norway. She'll then invite a different writer every year for the next century to write a manuscript to be held in trust, unread and unopened, until 2114. Then the trees will be harvested and turned into a special anthology of books, the first of which is being written now by speculative fiction author Margaret Atwood.
Read the full interview, as well as info on the artist on

This Forest Will Become an Anthology of Books in 100 Years by Nell Frizzell.

Three Great Baking Titles To Try: Puddin, The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Book, and Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread

The latest on the baking front for cookbooks. Included in these reviews: recipe for dark chocolate pudding, basic recipe for a gluten-free flower, and images of 4 different recipes from the Beekman farm cookbook. Click each link for the review on Cookbook Papers. Enjoy!

  • Puddin' is a handy one-topic cookbook to have on the baking bookshelf, with many things related to pudding to try. Recipe for the Chocolate Pudding with cocoa and 70% chocolate.


  • The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook is about as authentic as you can find when it comes to old-fashioned baking. The authors, Brent Ridges and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, divided the cookbook into seasons rather than baking chapters, bringing a bit of their farm life into their recipes. 4 different images of book recipes and photographs.

  • Gluten-free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread recipes are pretty straight forward and cover all the basic breads you'll ever really need. If you want to experiment with your own recipes, she gives quite a few to start off with. Below is her recipe for 'high-quality' gluten-free flour which includes rice flours and potato flour, potato and tapioca starches, xanthan gum, and a powered pectin, all doing their part to produce something similar to a gluten flour when baked.

Saving Vegetable Seeds by Fern Marshall Bradley

This illustrated, step-by-step guide shows you how to save seeds from 20 of the most popular vegetable garden plants, including beans, carrots, peas, peppers, and tomatoes. You'll learn how each plant is pollinated (key to determining how the seed should be saved), how to select the seeds to collect, and how to process and store collected seeds. Grow the varieties you love, year after year!
Saving Vegetable Seeds: Harvest, Clean, Store, and Plant Seeds from Your Garden was a short read, but filled with all the basic information you'll really need to start saving seeds from your garden. Author Fern Marshall Bradley broke the entire process down by separating the steps into these three chapters: Getting Started with Saving Seeds; Seed-Saving Techniques; and Saving Seeds, Crop by Crop.

The beginning of the book, the basics of seeds are identified and defined, such as the cross section of a seed, the parts of a flower and how seeds form from them, and self-pollinating vs. cross-pollinating crops. In the seed saving chapter, she walks the reader through her five steps of seed saving: taking care of your plants; harvesting the seeds; cleaning and drying the seeds; packing and storing; and testing viability. Included is how to control pollination (important in open-pollinated types of vegetables), and how to hand pollinate.

Probably the most helpful for me as a gardener was how to test seed viability. I've saved lots of seeds from my garden over the years, but doing a test on the seeds viability was something I've never done. The vegetables Bradley details are beans, carrots, corn, cucumbers, lettuce, melons and watermelons, onions and leeks, peas, peppers, radishes, squash, and tomatoes.

Handy book if you are planning on doing some seed saving, with the varieties she details.

Book Info:

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

Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals by Jamie Oliver

Learn something new and pass it on. That's the running theme throughout Jamie's Food Revolution. Jamie Oliver is on a quest to educate readers on the benefits of good food and simple preparation. And by teaching, he is hoping the newly educated cooks will pass on their knowledge with someone else ("preferably four").

Read the review to this lovely cookbook on the Cookbook Papers.

Jamie's Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver

Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Hearty, Easy-to-Make Salads You Don’t Have to be Vegan to Love

Cookbook of the Week: Salad Samurai by Terry Hope Romero

There are a few reasons why I love Terry Romero’s cookbooks: engaging text, downright delicious recipes, and the fact that you don’t even have to be vegan to enjoy what she makes. It’s actually included in the name her latest cookbook: Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Hearty, Easy-to-Make Salads You Don’t Have to be Vegan to Love
For the review and recipe, read Salad Samuri on Sand and Succotash blog.