Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography

by Neil Patrick Harris

Neil-Patrick-Harris

You remember choose your own adventure books right? They were so popular when I was younger. They were so much fun and it was like you were getting several books in one. Plus I know you know who Neil Patrick Harris is?  I’ve been watching him since he was Doogie Howser. We love him in the Smurf movies and of course there is always Barney. Well he wrote one the best autobiographies I’ve ever read!

Neil Patrick Harris Choose Your Own Biography is so much to read. Many times biographies for me can be a bit dry, boring and just not that much fun to read. I’m not a biography girl. However I knew I wanted to read this since Neil Patrick Harris is such a fun guy!

This biography will have you smiling, laughing out loud so much people are going to stop you and ask what are you reading! This book is also sad in parts and he doesn’t hold anything back it is honest and emotional and you will end up loving him even more for this book! I have learned so much about this actor that really loves life, is witty, talented and an amazing author!!! I will be reading this book many times! I hope he writes many more books. He would be a wonderful children’s author. Oh my gosh would those children’s books be so amazing! All and all this book was amazing and if every biography was like this I’d totally be a biography reading girl! 🙂

I hear that the audio version of this book is wonderful, his narration is so great it will be like Neil is sitting in the car talking your ear off. I placed it on hold at my library I have to hear this!

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Modern Printmaking

A Guide to Traditional and Digital Techniques

by Sylvia Covey

 

Modern Printmaking by Sylvia Covey

 

First off I most say this book is beautiful, it is very well made and printed on thick glossy paper. Modern Prinkmaking would be a wonderful “coffee table” type book yo have on display not shelved. This is one that every one can flip through and admire and enjoy. I got this book because I have a love of art and wanted to learn more about Printmaking. This book is divided into the chapters based on the type of printmaking technique that is being introduced. Each chapter gives a brief history and introduction as well is what materials and equipment are needed and how to prepare for that type of printmaking. Sylvia Covey also introduces the reader to so many great artist that use printmaking for their form of art. I love reading about and discovering new artist.  There are so many types, many I had not heard of. While most are ones you can’t just do in your home unless you have the money and studio this book is still amazing and I enjoyed every minute of it. There are some techniques that you can do at home and are not as hard or as expensive to get the supplies. I think this summer I might try my hand at a few, that way I have the time to slowly gather my supplies that I do not have. While she does explain everything and this is an instructional book I’m not really it is for the beginning or average home artist, it is geared for the art student who is working on learning all these techniques. I loved this beautiful book and I know I will continue to flip through it from time to time. This book gets 5 out 5 stars and I’d give it more than that if I could it is just so beautifully made.

summary: A fully illustrated instructional printmaking book presenting step-by-step examples alongside representative works from thirty top contemporary printmaking artists.

Printmaking is flourishing in the modern era, appealing to both traditional artists as well as those interested in graphic design and digital techniques. This all-in-one guide is both technical and inspirational, examining the history and contemporary processes of relief, intaglio, lithography, serigraphy, mixed media, digital transfers, and post-digital graphics. Featuring step-by-step examples alongside representative works and profiles of top printmaking artists, this colorful resource provides a truly fresh look at printmaking today, in all its forms.

thank you so very much blogging for books, Sylvia Covey, Waston Guptill and Crown Publishing for allowing me to read and start my printmaking adventures. All thoughts and opinions are my own and were not influenced by the free book.

Priceless Weddings : For Under $5,000

Your Dream Wedding For Less Money Than You Ever Thought Possible

by Kathleen Kennedy

Priceless Weddings

 

My husband and I are getting ready to celebrate 19 years of marriage, we paid for our own wedding. Also in lieu of gifts we got a lot of things “given” as gifts like my aunts and mom made all the finger foods for the reception. My sister’s boyfriend took the pictures, which Walmart proceeded to lose all the negatives and pictures (don’t get me started). I borrowed a beautiful wedding dress from a friend who had just got married, and her mom was over the moon happy since they spent $2,000. I don’t regret not having a dress to pass down to my girls since it might not have been their style. Anyway I guess what I’m saying is reasonable priced weddings are do-able, and we came in way below $5,000 and had everything we wanted (ok everything I wanted 🙂 ). Priceless Weddings  is full of information I wish I had at my finger tips when I was planning mine,, especially since that was before pinterest and fast information at the click of the button. This book has many checklist, budget sheets and even theme’s for parties, and receptions. The recipes are ones you could even use in day to day cooking just cut back the servings unless you’re using them for a holiday and will have a big crowd. You could even use many of the tips and checklist – budget sheets when planning other big celebrations like graduation, baby showers, big birthdays or anniversaries.  While some of the information is common knowledge and easy to google it is nice to have everything in one book.

summary: A priceless wedding is one that emphasizes the unique personalities of the couple getting married. Priceless Weddings for Under $5,000 proves that you can celebrate the spirit of love, hope, joy, and community — without spending a fortune.

Caterer and event planner Kathleen Kennedy offers insights on how to personalize a wedding inexpensively. She shares her savvy, insider techniques and tips to help couples save money on the many high-ticket items on their to-do list, showing where to cut corners and where to go all out.

thank you Random House for sending me Priceless Weddings. All thoughts and opinions are my own and were not influenced by the free book.

Life Changing Magic: A Journal

spark joy every day

by Marie Kondo

Life Changing Magic A Journal

 

I’ve been looking for a new little journal, but so far no luck. However all that changed when I opened book mail and laid hands on this little gem. Life Changing Magic A Journal is a 3 year journal with labeled pages. This is perfect each page has 3 paragraph sized entries all you got to do is add the year. I love that 3 years of memories is at your fingertips and it’s all in this little, but thick compact book. Through out the book she has placed random joy quotes. I’m not sure if this is from her first book or the new book Spark Joy. I’m on hold for both at my library, so I guess I’ll find out soon enough. I can’t wait for January 1st so I can start this journal, so I’ve decided to start it on Christmas Eve. Who says you have to start a journal on the 1st day of a new year. I’m ready to preserve get joyful memories, funny quotes and stories from my girls and other day to day joy for the next 3 years. I think if I write in it each night that would be best but we will see.

summary: I’ve been looking for a new little journal, but so far no luck. However all that changed when I opened book mail and laid hands on this little gem. Life Changing Magic A Journal is a 3 year journal with labeled pages. This is perfect each page has 3 paragraph sized entries all you got to do is add the year. I love that 3 years of memories is at your fingertips and it’s all in this little, but thick compact book. Through out the book she has placed random joy quotes. I’m not sure if this is from her first book or the new book Spark Joy. I’m on hold for both at my library, so I guess I’ll find out soon enough. I can’t wait for January 1st so I can start this journal, so I’ve decided to start it on Christmas Eve. Who says you have to start a journal on the 1st day of a new year. I’m ready to preserve get joyful memories, funny quotes and stories from my girls and other day to day joy for the next 3 years. I think if I write in it each night that would be best but we will see.

thank you blogging for books and crown publishing for sending me Life Changing Magic A Journal. All thoughts and opinions are my own and were not influenced by the free book.

The Homemade Kitchen

by Alana Chernila

The Homemade Kitchen

The Homemade Kitchen is a good cookbook and made perfect for the seasoned at home cook or the brand new to cooking person looking for info. Really this cookbook would be the perfect gift for a person that is new to cooking. The author has divided the book into chapters that as simple as Be A Beginner which is all so full of so much information it is one of my favorite chapters. I know how to cook eggs, veggies and such but she breaks it down into all kinds from how to steam and roast veggies to transforming milk or cooking grains. This is good for all levels of cooking and I learned a few things and have several post-its in this chapter. The other chapters are about making meals and while I won’t use a lot of them due to picky eaters I do have some post -its. My favorite book of hers will always be The Homemade Pantry but this one is good and I’m glad to have it in my kitchen cookbook library.

summary:  Written as much for the reader as the cook, The Homemade Kitchen covers a globe’s worth of flavors and includes new staples (what Alana is known for) such as chèvre, tofu, kefir, kimchi, preserved lemons, along with recipes and ideas for using them. Here, too, are dishes you’ll be inspired to try and that you will make again and again until they become your own family recipes, such as Broccoli Raab with Cheddar Polenta, a flavor-forward lunch for one; Roasted Red Pepper Corn Chowder, “late summer in a bowl”; Stuffed Winter Squash, rich with leeks, chorizo, apples, and grains; Braised Lamb Shanks that are tucked into the oven in the late afternoon and not touched again until dinner; Corn and Nectarine Salad showered with torn basil; perfect share-fare Sesame Noodles; Asparagus Carbonara, the easiest weeknight dinner ever; and sweet and savory treats such as Popovers, Cinnamon Swirl Bread, Summer Trifle made with homemade pound cake and whatever berries are ripest, and Rhubarb Snacking Cake.

In this follow-up to Alana’s wildly successful debut, The Homemade Pantry, she once again proves herself to be the truest and least judgmental friend a home cook could want

thank you blogging for books, Alana Chernila and Crown Publishing for allowing me to read, and review The Homemade Kitchen. All thoughts and opinions are my own and were not influenced by the free book.

Michael Symon’s 5 in 5 for Every Season

165 Quick Dinners, Sides, Holiday Dishes and More…

by Michael Symon

5 in 5

I love cookbooks, I love trying new recipes, reading them cover to cover and discovering new ways to cook food. I know in this day and age of e-books, pinterest, blogs and the net many find that cookbooks are no longer needed in book form. Not me I love having a big stack of cookbooks in my kitchen and use them so much many are duct taped together. I haven’t been a big The Chew watcher but I do know of Michael Symon from my favorite channel Food Network.  This is the first cook book of his I’ve looked through and read, however it won’t be the last. He has so many great recipes! I love the simple idea of 5 in 5. The book is divided into seasons so you can do fresh in season cooking. I know many of the dishes I have saved for later could actually be made now using frozen veggies so don’t let that stop you. He has all kinds of food types represented from vegetarian to meat eater. Some of my favorites from the 5 in 5 For Every Season are:

  • Rigatoni with Mushrooms & Swiss Chard: I like that it doesn’t have a heavy sauce. My hubby however puts sauce on it. So I guess you can do it either way. 
  • Spinach Salad with Ham Steak and Fried Egg: A grown up green eggs and ham. I don’t eat pork products so I did just the egg and salad it was still delish!
  • Spaghetti with Quick Sausage Ragu: I used chicken sausage and it was so yummy! 
  • Orecchiette with White Beans and Spinach: Very good and very hearty even meat eaters will love this one. This is a main dish but could be used a side for a grilled portobello mushroom or chicken.
  • Mashed Potato Cakes with Parmesan: This is a nice twist to pancake night and a great way to not waste food. Add some bacon (turkey, or regular) and some eggs and you have a great breakfast, brunch or breakfast for dinner.

These are just a few of our favorites we have so many more. I have post it flags coming out all over this book. It is my go to for meal planning and we are loving it. I might have to grab a copy of his first 5 in 5 and then I’ll be all set!

summary: 5 fresh ingredients + 5 minutes of heat = 165 recipes

Ridiculously easy from-scratch recipes to get you in and out of the kitchen in a flash every day of the week—now with sides and holiday dishes, too…

The follow-up to the bestselling Michael Symon’s 5 in 5, this new book delivers 165 quick, easy, fresh recipes organized by season with an entire section devoted to making the holidays simpler than ever. Each chapter features inspired main courses as well as recipes for sides and 5 fun ways to celebrate the season, including no-bake summer fruit desserts and spiked drinks to warm up with in winter.

thank you so much Blogging for Books, Micheal Symon and Crown Publishing for allowing me to review 5 in 5 For Every Season. All thoughts and opinions are my own and were not influenced by the free book.

Avenue of Spies

A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family’s Heroic Resistance in Nazi – Occupied Paris

by Alex Kershaw

 

avenue of spies

Wow! I’m usually not a big non fiction fan but Avenue of Spies just made me one! I have to admit I did grab a copy since I tend to read anything I can get my hands on when dealing with WWII. Avenue of Spies was different from most since this one dealt with an American doctor in Paris. This was almost like all the page turning suspense books I’ve read. The author does a great job at presenting the real life events of the  Sumner Jackson and his family. Doctor Jackson was and is a hero in my eyes. He didn’t just stand back and let all those horrible events pass by he did his part in helping people escape even though it meant if caught his family would be treated as traitors and sent to concentration camps. Which is what happened, for Sumner, his wife and their son. Phillip their son was able to give accounts of their life and helped shape this book and made it an amazing read for any history buff. There were so many unsung heroes during WWII and Doctor Sumner Jackson, his wife and son were among those that no one had heard about until now thanks to author Alex Kershaw. I’m so honored to have read their story and it will stay with me always. Avenue of Spies is one of those books that I will place on my bookshelf, next to my copy of Diary of Anne Frank and read again and again.

 summary: The leafy Avenue de Foch, one of the most exclusive residential streets in Nazi-occupied France, was Paris’s hotbed of daring spies, murderous secret police, amoral informers, and Vichy collaborators. So when American physician Sumner Jackson, who lived with his wife and young son Phillip at Number 11, found himself drawn into the Liberation network of the French resistance, he knew the stakes were impossibly high. Just down the road at Number 31 was the “mad sadist” Theodor Dannecker, an Eichmann protĂ©gĂ© charged with deporting French Jews to concentration camps. And Number 84 housed the Parisian headquarters of the Gestapo, run by the most effective spy hunter in Nazi Germany.

From his office at the American Hospital, itself an epicenter of Allied and Axis intrigue, Jackson smuggled fallen Allied fighter pilots safely out of France, a job complicated by the hospital director’s close ties to collaborationist Vichy. After witnessing the brutal round-up of his Jewish friends, Jackson invited Liberation to officially operate out of his home at Number 11–but the noose soon began to tighten. When his secret life was discovered by his Nazi neighbors, he and his family were forced to undertake  a journey into the dark heart of the war-torn continent from which there was little chance of return.

thank you Blogging for Books, Crown Publishing, Alex Kershaw for allowing me to read the Jackson’s family acts of bravery. All thoughts and opinions are my own and were not influenced by the free book.

Bradstreet Gate

by Robin Kirman

Georgia, Charlie and Alice each arrive at Harvard with hopeful visions of what the future will hold. But when, just before graduation, a classmate is found murdered on campus, they find themselves facing a cruel and unanticipated new reality. Moreover, a charismatic professor who has loomed large in their lives is suspected of the crime. Though his guilt or innocence remains uncertain, the unsettling questions raised by the case force the three friends to take a deeper look at their tangled relationship. Their bond has been defined by the secrets they’ve kept from one another—Charlie’s love and Alice’s envy, Georgia’s mysterious affair—and over the course of the next decade, as they grapple with the challenges of adulthood and witness the unraveling of a teacher’s once-charmed life, they must reckon with their own.

I grabbed a copy of Bradstreet Gate for review because I wanted a good mystery. I love mystery’s and thrillers almost as much as I love tea, and that’s saying alot! This book was good, I enjoyed it but not as mystery suspense as I was hoping for. It reminded me of a mini series or like the new thing a 10 episode drama. The characters were quirky and a bit dysfunctional but they kept you reading. The Bradstreet Gate is good, the classmates murder is really just the backdrop and not the main theme of the book. It’s really about this group of very driven friends that will do anything to keep their secrets, secret and their life on the same track they have always envisioned. If your into character driven fiction with a side of mystery than grab Bradstreet Gate.

thank you blogging for books, crown publishing and Robin Kirman for allowing me to read and review Bradstreet Gate. All thoughts and opinions are my own and were not influenced by the free book. 

The Mapmaker’s Children

by Sarah McCoy

When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril.

   Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance. 


   Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way.


I couldn’t wait to get my hands on The Mapmaker’s Children, it is about a time in history that is very interesting to me. I love reading everything I can about the Underground Railroad. I would like to think I would be like Sarah and help  the slaves to safety. So this book was one I had to read. I LOVED The Mapmaker’s Children. I’m not usually a fan of the back and forth switching from one person to the next. It gets confusing to me at times. However Sarah McCoy does such a great job at intertwining the two it just flows so well. I love all the historical facts she includes within the story. It really makes you want to research the history of your house if it is an older home. Mine is not old so sadly no fun stories here but can you imagine if you had a old 1800’s home. The Mapmaker’s Children has made me a fan of not only Sarah McCoy but of historical past/present story telling. I know this is a book I will read many times and one that in top book picks for 2015! 

thank you blogging for books, crown publishing and Sarah McCoy for allowing me to read this wonderful book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and were not influenced by the free book. 

Soul Food Love

Healthy Recipes Inspired by 100 Years of Cooking in a Black Family
by Alice Randall and Carole Randall Williams

I am a collector of books and cookbooks are no different, I love cookbooks! I love finding new recipes and making new dishes. Soul Food Love is really 3 books in 1. It’s a book full of history, its a cookbook and it is a collection of personal family stories. That makes this book so neat and different from other cook books that I own and have read. Yes, you read right I said read a cookbook. I am a foodie at heart and love reading cookbooks cover to cover just like a regular book. Soul Food Love is a book that will push me out of my comfort zone and make me try new foods.

The first 70 + pages is all about their family history and talks about how this cookbook came about. It is a compilation of 5 kitchens, 3 generations and 100 years. It is also about how the recipes in the book are from “baby girls” kitchen and how she wanted to make their long cherished recipes healthy. I really don’t think any of the recipes call for anything you can’t get at your local grocery store or super target or walmart. In the late spring to late fall you could grow a lot of the ingredients in your garden.

The recipe categories are divided up into Sips and Bites, Soups, Main Dishes, Sides and Salads Desserts, Crowns and For a Crowd. There are some I will make over and over and some I just skip just like any cookbook or foodie magazine.

Favorites of mine from each section:

Sips and Bites: Southern Hummus and Black Eyes Pea Hummus ( that uses natural peanut butter not the expensive hard to find sesame paste! Score, Win Win!), Homemade Salsa with Cucumber Chips (great flavorful salsa with sliced cucumbers), Homemade Peanut Butter (which you can use in the hummus recipes)

Soups: Sweet Potato Broth (which I would consider similar to pureed tomato soup only better because it’s sweet potatoes!), Broccoli Soup, Chicken Broth (which I really need to start making and stop buying),

Main Dishes:  Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Onion, Spicy Pepper Chicken (YUM!), Turkey Burgers ( a favorite in our house), Red and Black Bean Burgers (great for Lent Fridays or a meatless “meaty” burger), Sweet Potato Kale and Black Eyed Pea Soup (not sure why this isn’t in the soup section but who cares it is yummy!) Red Beans and Brown Rice Creole Salad, and lastly one that only my husband eats and loves Salmon Croquettes with dill sauce (I stay away from all things ocean wise. He loves these!)

Sides and Salads: A Mess of Greens (love me some greens!), Simple Spinach, Broccoli with peanuts and raisins, Roasted Asparagus with lemon zest, Roasted Green Onions, Any Day Snap Beans (this one is just like what my Grandma in South Carolina made. Brings back memories of spending hours snapping those beans and talking!), Fiery Green Beans, Sweet Potato Skewers, Links Salad (I could eat this whole recipe all by myself) , Savory Avocado Salad with Corn Peppers and Cilantro (this is not quac, it is so good, tasty and filling!), Chopped Spinach and Turkey Salad, Herbed Corn and the Cob, Old School Salad Plate revisited

Crowns: Cauliflower Crown and Crepe Stack

For A Crowd: Bills Whole Smoked Turkey, Breakfast Casserole and another one my husband eats that he loves and I have to take his word and empty plate for it: Herb roasted Salmon filet.

As you can see there are a lot of post flags coming out of this book and so many yummy new foods to rotate through out our menu. I’m glad I was able to review Soul Food Love and I hope you enjoy the stories and recipes as much I have if you pick up a copy.

thank you blogging for books and Crown Publishing for sending me a review copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own and were no way influenced by the free book.