Thursday, March 26, 2015

The New Lean for Life by Cynthia Stamper Graff, Reginald Allouche, M.D.

The New Lean for Life
Outsmart Your Body to Shrink Fat Cells and Lose Weight for Good
Authors: Cynthia Stamper Graff, Reginald Allouche, M.D.
Publisher: Harlequin Nonfiction
ISBN: 9780373893034
Hardcover, 320 pages

About the Book:
Lose up to 20 pounds in 4 weeks!
750,000 success stories.
Over 15 million pounds lost.
It's your turn to get lean for life!

Stop fighting your body with traditional diets that slow your metabolism, and discover the program that has helped hundreds of thousands of people get lean—for life. The New Lean for Life is proven to shrink fat cells twice as much as conventional diets through four powerful phases.

Phase 1—Prepare your body for fast weight loss.
Phase 2—Shrink your fat cells without feeling hungry or deprived.
Phase 3—Recalibrate your metabolism so that you can eat more food without gaining weight.
Phase 4—Stay lean for life by committing to one high-protein day a week.

The Lean for Life program has been used for over 40 years in Lindora Clinics to help over 750,000 people lose millions of pounds—with an incredible 79 percent keeping weight off!

Now this classic bestseller has been completely revised and updated based on groundbreaking new research about the brain's role in weight loss. The New Lean for Life uses a revolutionary "smart carb" program coupled with powerful behavioral modification to shrink fat cells while stabilizing blood sugar, healing inflammation and establishing new habits that will sustain a leaner, healthier you. The easy-to-follow daily plans anticipate your thoughts, needs and cravings before they hit so that you are sure to stay on track and succeed. Results are quick—you'll experience rapid weight loss in just 4 weeks—and lasting. And best of all, you won't feel hungry or deprived!

Now it's your turn. Join the Lean for Life movement and lose weight—for good.
My Thoughts:

While going through my list of books, I am embarrassed to have discovered that I never reviewed this one. At the time I received it, I decided to test "The New Lean for Life" and see if it would hold up to its claim. Yes it did work. I lost weight - 24 pounds to be exact and I was excited! Then I slipped and went off the diet and never went back on. Sadly, I gained almost all the weight back.

This seems to be the problem for me with all the structured type diets. They restrict where I feel deprived and after a while I get bored and boom - back to the dark side (they have cookies!). My problem is I need to learn how to eat things I love along with a good diet. A healthy approach and I didn't find it with this method.

I know that this method works for others - I've read the success stories, but if you don't make the diet into a lifestyle that you are happy with. If you have that type of an outlook, you will probably have success, but if you don't look at it as a lifestyle, you may end up in the same boat I did (and do).

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley courtesy of the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Cultured Food for Life by Donna Schwenk

Cultured Food for Life
How to Make and Serve Delicious Probiotic Foods for Better Health and Wellness
Author: Donna Schwenk
Publisher: Hay House, Inc.
ISBN: 9781401942823
Paperback: 256 pages

About the Book:
Cultured Food for Life is a part of a new genre of cookbooks gaining popularity among a growing demographic of health and wellness aficionados. In this work, fermentation guru Donna Schwenk introduces readers to the healing properties of kefir, kombucha, cultured vegetables, sprouted flour, and sourdough. Fermentation has been used in food preparation for thousands of years, but in the past few decades it has moved from being a commonplace kitchen ritual to being something done only by a few health-conscious proponents. Most fermentation now is done at factories, whose processes strip away some of the abundant vitamins, minerals, and healthy bacteria that make this way of preparing foods so beneficial. But Donna Schwenk is working to bring this staple of food preparation back to readers by showing that these now-unfamiliar processes are actually easy and fun. And by doing this, she opens the door to a world of foods that can help rid readers of health problems including high blood pressure, diabetes, allergies, acne, hypertension, asthma, and irritable bowel syndrome. After telling the astonishing story of how she healed herself and her family with these probiotic foods, Schwenk walks readers, step by step, through the basic preparation techniques for kefir, kombucha, cultured vegetables, sprouted flour, and sourdough plus more than 120 recipes that use these foods to create dishes to please any palate. With recipes like Herbed Omelet with Kefir Hollandaise Sauce, Sprouted Ginger Scones with Peaches and Kefir Cream, Kefir Veggie Sprouted Pizza, Apple Sauerkraut, and Sprouted Brownies Kefir Cupcakes, along with inspirational stories from Donna’s family and friends, readers will enjoy a diet that’s as delicious as it is healthy.

Visit Donna's website at:

My Thoughts:

Donna's story is not unusual. Cultured foods have been around for centuries, but somewhere along the way, we have forgotten how important these foods are to us. As we continue down the road of prepared foods and fast foods, we are losing the most valuable asset we have - just good plain food. This is the key to both health and wellness and Donna shows the reader this.

Filled with some delicious recipes, the reader (no matter what type of diet one is on) will benefit by following Donna's suggestions, recipes, and simple eating habits. This way of eating certainly won't harm anyone and all it can do is help. If you have problems with any of the ailments that she describes or just want to eat better before you are affected, grab a copy of this book NOW. This book will lead you on a more healthy lifestyle without being drastic. Kefir and other foods are easy to make and not expensive at all. There's really nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain by reading this book!

Highly recommended!

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley courtesy of the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

A Winter Discovery by Michael Baron

A Winter Discovery
Author: Michael Baron
Publisher: The Story Plant
Paperback: 60 pages

About the Book:
Reviewers have rejoiced in Michael Baron's "emotionally charged relationships" (RT Book Reviews), "deep sensitivity" (#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs), and "talent and depth" (Romance Writers Reviews), while calling his work "a masterpiece" (Book Reviews R Us), "unforgettable" (Fresh Fiction), and "beautiful" (My Book Retreat). Now Baron presents us with his first novelette and his first holiday story, a touching, luminous, and openhearted tale of love, wonder, and revelation.

Returning to the characters of his first novel, When You Went Away, Baron takes us again into the world of Gerry Rubato, a man who has been marked by loss and revived by love, and his son Reese, now five, who celebrates life at a remarkable level but is only now starting to understand that he was robbed of the chance of ever knowing his mother. Reese is old enough now to get caught up in the excitement of the Christmas season and he throws himself into it with abandon. His sense of celebration takes on entirely new levels of meaning, though, when it leads him to an unexpected and most remarkable discovery.

At once buoyant and poignant, and filled with irrepressible spirit, A Winter Discovery is a story of that will take you to new places in your heart.

Michael Baron is the fiction pseudonym for a successful author of nonfiction books. He is the author of five novels, When You Went Away, Crossing the Bridge, The Journey Home, Spinning and Anything.
My Thoughts:

This holiday story will warm your heart and is perfect for holiday reading as well as any time you want a nice sweet story. Centered around a 5 (almost 6!) year old boy named Reese, who lives with his step-mother and father and has an older sister that is in college. Reese wants nothing more than to spend some time with his mother. She died not long after he was born, so he doesn't know her, but he feels the need to want to get to know her.

Reese is a delightful child who has a very vivid imagination. This imagination will charm you and make you smile. He's adorable and funny and he makes the reader want to grant him his wish.

Put this on you must reads for your holiday reading or just any time you may want a good short story that warms your heart. This could be considered the second story in the "series". It follows "When You Went Away" but can also be read as a stand alone. The reader won't feel like they have missed anything.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley courtesy of the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Lucky Spool's Essential Guide to Modern Quilt Making

Lucky Spool's Essential Guide to Modern Quilt Making
From Color to Quilting: 10 Design Workshops by Your Favorite Teachers
Editors at Lucky Spool
Publisher: Lucky Spool Media
ISBN: 9781940655000
Paperback: 192 pages

About the Book:
Ten of the best known and most respected teachers in modern quilt making, many bestselling authors in their own right, share one of their most popular workshops with you. Each class is designed to help you improve your own composition and design choices whether you create your own patterns or want to follow one of the 16 patterns included. The final workshop is an inspirational gallery of 50 modern quilts that exemplify the tone, color work, and techniques found in modern quilt making today. This is the must-have collection of modern quilt making.
My Thoughts:

First, I must comment on the cover. I buy books when their covers impress me. Yes, I know I'm not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I can't help it - I love covers. This cover is bland and boring to me, and if I saw it on the shelf I wouldn't have purchased it. That would have been my loss, as there is so much great information to be had here.

Let's look at the table of contents:

1. The Principles of Color
2. Working with Solids
3. Working with Prints
4. Improvisational Patchwork
5. The Alternate Grid
6. Circles and Curves
7. Paper Piecing
8. Large-Scale Piecing
9. Modern Quilting
10. A Study of Modern Quilts
Plus templates to make 16 quilts.

My largest downfall with quilting or really any project is color. I know what I like when I see it on covers, quilts, afghans, etc. but I have no talent when it comes to putting the colors together on my own. This book goes into detail about color and color theory and has a LOT of good information in it that helped me.

I also like the sections on Circles and Curves as well as Paper-Piecing. They are well done and helped me with some of my problems that I've had in the past when it comes to these techniques.

This is a book I will be purchasing the hard copy of to keep in my quilting library to reference over and over again. It's a great book and will help beginners as well as experienced quilters alike. Make sure to add this to your quilting library - you won't regret it.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley courtesy of the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Make Ahead Bread by Donna Currie

Make Ahead Bread
100 Recipes for Melt-in-Your-Mouth Fresh Bread Every Day
Donna Currie
The Taunton Press, Inc.
ISBN: 9781627103954
Paperback: 208 pages

About the Book:
Two Steps to Breaking Bread. Make Ahead Bread de-mystifies the bread-baking process with simple recipes and easy-to-follow steps for fresh-from-the-oven bread. Plus there's an entire chapter devoted to baking ingredients and equipment. Follow home baker Donna Currie's simple two-step process to baking delicious, fresh, yeast breads:

Step One – mix and knead the dough, then let it rest for 1-2 days while you enjoy life Step Two – bake.

Yes, it's that simple.

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Breads. Your home will smell amazing while you bake any of the 100 recipes in Make Ahead Bread, including all of these:

Loaf Breads – Bacon, Tomato and Cheddar Loaf; Maple Sugar and Walnut Loaf Buns, Rolls, Breadsticks – Slider Buns; Cheesy Breadstick Twists Flatbreads – Chicago-style Pan Pizza; Semolina Focaccia Pastries – Breakfast Sausage Danish; Traditional Croissants, and more. Now, you're never too busy to bake bread! Yeast bread isn't complicated to make, but because it needs time to rise, it’s not always easy to fit it into time available - that’s until now. Make Ahead Bread gives inexperienced bakers and busy home cooks the information you need to make flavorful, freshly baked bread on a schedule that works for you.

Leftovers? Just in case you have any leftovers, this book also features many recipes for your extra bread like Almond Butter Bread Pudding; Artichoke, Olive and Tomato Strata; and Overnight French Toast. Plus recipes for scrumptious butters and spreads are included, such as: Chunky Apple and Cinnamon Spread and Chocolate Butter to name a few.
My Thoughts:

Refrigerating bread dough to allow for a slow rise is nothing new. It has been done for years - my mother did it and so did my grandmother.

I was excited to get a copy of this to review. I have tried this technique when I've been in a time crunch or when I want a nice delicate loaf. When I tried some of the recipes from this book, I was surprised to find they didn't always turn out the way I wanted. I had problems with the second rise, so sometimes I would just skip the first rise, knead the dough, form it and then put it in the fridge to have a slow rise. I did have success that way.

The recipes are yummy - but you may need to experiment on how to get these to raise the way you want them to.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley courtesy of the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Jack Templar Monster Hunter by Jeff Gunhus

Jack Templar Monster Hunter
The Templar Chronicles - Book One
Author: Jeff Gunhus
Publisher: Seven Guns Press
ISBN: 9780988425903
Paperback: 204 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

About the Book:
Orphan Jack Smith has no memory of his parents and only the smallest details from his Aunt Sophie about how they died. But the day before his fourteenth birthday, things start to change for him. At first it's great: A sudden new strength helps him defend his nose-picking friend "T-Rex" from the school bully, and even his crush, Cindy Adams, takes notice. But then a mysterious girl named Eva arrives and tells him two facts that will change his life forever. First, that he's the descendent of a long line of monster hunters and he's destined to be in the family business. Second, that there's a truce between man and monster that children are off-limits...until their fourteenth birthday! Jack has only one day to prepare before hundreds of monsters will descend on his little town of Sunnyvale and try to kill him.

As if that weren't enough, Jack discovers that the Lord of the Creach (as the monsters are collectively known) holds a personal grudge against him and will do anything to see that Jack has a slow and painful death. To stay alive and save his friends, Jack will have to battle werewolves, vampires, harpies, trolls, zombies and more. But perhaps the most dangerous thing he must face is the truth about his past. Why do the other hunters call him the last Templar? Why do they whisper that he may be the "One?" Why do the monsters want him dead so badly? Even as these questions plague him, he quickly discovers survival is his new full-time job and that in the world of monster hunters, nothing is really what it seems.
My Thoughts:

Jack is a character that I totally adore! Told from his point of view, I had no choice except fall in love with his character. Jack is to the point, quirky, hilarious and just a teen that wants to be a teen, however that's not in his future. When Jack finds out that his life is not what it appeared to be, he embraces what faces him and does what he needs to do.

I love the voice that Jeff Gunhus gave Jack - perfect for a  14 year old boy. I also love how when he is telling the story, Jack stops and interjects something for the audience and that pulls one into the story even more! But lets not stop with Jack - Eva is great, too, and she's a strong female character that "works" well with Jack.

Perfect for the male young adult audience, but not exclusive. This great beginning to the series will bridge both sex and age groups. Jack Templar Monster Hunter has been likened to Percy Jones, but I think it's better. I love the storyline and more importantly, I love Jack. Add this to your TBR list. It's a fun read and a must for a day when you need to unwind and just be entertained!

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley courtesy of the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Return to Grace by Karen Harper

Return to Grace
A Home Valley Amish Novel #2
Author: Karen Harper
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
ISBN: 9780778313236
Paperback: 368 pages
Genre: Amish fiction, mystery

About the Book:
In the shadows of a graveyard, a SHOT rings out…

Hannah Esh fled the Home Valley Amish community with a broken heart, throwing herself into her worldly dreams of a singing career instead. But as much as she tries to run from her past, something keeps pulling her back. On a whim, she brings four worldly friends to the Amish graveyard near her family’s home for a midnight party on Halloween. But when shots are fired and one of her friends is killed, Hannah is pulled back into the world of her past.

The investigation into the shooting uncovers deep-buried secrets that shock the peaceful Amish village to its core. Determined to prove her value to the community she left behind, Hannah attempts to bridge two cultures,working closely with both handsome, arrogant FBI agent Linc Armstrong and her former betrothed, Seth Lantz,now widowed with a young daughter.

Caught between Seth and Linc, between old and new, Amish and worldly, Hannah must choose her future. Unless a killer, bent on secrecy, chooses it for her.
About the Author:

New York Times bestselling author Karen Harper is a former high school and college English teacher. Winner of the 2005 Mary Higgins Clark Award for her outstanding novel Dark Angel, Karen is the author of seventeen romantic suspense novels and six historical novels, as well as a series of historical mysteries. Karen and her husband, who divide their time between Columbus, Ohio, and Naples, Florida, love to travel both in the U.S. and abroad. For additional information about Karen and her novels, please visit

My Thoughts:

The story line for "Return to Grace" was an exciting and page-turning experience, but I did have issues with it, and those issues detracted from the enjoyment of the story for me. First let me clarify why. I live in an area of Old Order Amish and have an Amish friend. This story's Amish customs are  far from the Amish customs and community that I know here. I'm not saying they are incorrect as each order has their own ways, but they don't match with what I know.

With that said, the story and the characters didn't ring true to me. The sheriff felt contrived and quite forced and I really couldn't "get into it" the way I would have liked. Yes - my problem and not fair to the story.

Another issue I had was coming into the series with this as my first book. I don't think that helped at all and I honestly think I should have started with book one. I strongly suggest that anyone interested in this series should start at the beginning.

Lastly - I don't like any type of sex in my Amish fiction. It has to be clean for me.

If you like Amish fiction and don't get hung up on the different ways of each order and don't mind your story being a little risque, you shouldn't have any issues with this. Really, the basic story is good. I just got hung up on the details.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley courtesy of the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.


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