Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Review of Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and WarningBlack Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Intellectual, well researched, and insightful is how I would describe Black Earth. This book is a bit overwhelming at times with information which is why it took me awhile to read it. Timothy Snyder is a superb writer of explaining the economics and viewpoint of Adolph Hitler. He further goes into details of Hitler's idea for ridding the world of Jews and expanding Germany.
Unlike most books about the holocaust which focuses on the atrocities done and the stories of survivors this book is different. Timothy Snyder focuses on the possibility of another mass genocide in the future and possible reasons for it. A very thought provoking and eye opening chapter from history that should never be forgotten.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

To Catch a Lady by Pamela Labud

To Catch a Lady (Hunt Club, #1)To Catch a Lady by Pamela Labud
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story is full of misunderstandings and silly assumptions. The romance between Caroline and Ash is raw and uninhibited when they're not thinking or fighting. From the start things were rocky between the two. Caro stumbled into Ash upon their first encounter when she wanted to match him up with her younger sister. Little did she know it was Caroline, the older more progressive sister whom Ash was attracted to.

Ash is a difficult character to understand at one moment he looks forward to sparring with Caroline and the next moment he distances himself from her. He is determined not to end up in tumultuous relationship as his parents did. He wanted to make certain the woman he ends up marrying will not fall in love with him nor he love her so Ash makes her sign a marriage contract. The contract states that upon conceiving a baby his wife and the child will leave him to his peaceful lodge in Slyddon where he and his friends like to hunt and fish in the wilderness. Determined to make the marriage work without feelings of love is proving to become too difficult for Ash and Caro. At every turn she matches wits with him and proves to be just as stubborn headed as him.

What I didn't enjoy about this story was all the misunderstandings between Ash and Caroline and not just that but it seems like as soon as they are made up another set of negativity blocks them from being happy. I enjoyed the times when there was honesty and clarity in their relationship as they were trying to learn more about each other. In my mind it was like fireworks going off every time they showed their true feelings that is why I'm giving this book a 3 star rating.

Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Friday, January 15, 2016

Rise and Shine by Sandra D. Bricker

Rise and ShineRise and Shine by Sandra D. Bricker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rise and Shine a Contemporary Fairy Tale by Sandra Bricker is a cute read that is the perfect book for a rainy day at home because like this book it begins kind of depressing but then it will turn your dreary day into sunshine. The story starts out like a tragedy. Shannon a newlywed on her honeymoon has an unfortunate diving accident. When she wakes up she finds she has been in a coma for 10 years, yes 10 years! Crazy right?! But that's not the worse of it. The man Shannon thought she'd be spending the rest of her life with died several years ago from cancer while she was in her coma. Sounds like a horrible nightmare! Thankfully she has a doctor who helps her through her recovery and discover her life again. Did I mention Dr. Petros is handsome? Shannon finds out she is not the same person she used to be before the accident. She develops a new appreciation for cooking and even wants to abandon her old career for something in the culinary field.
Rise and Shine is such a fun and quirky story. Shannon, the main character was very likeable and I could even see a lot of myself in her. For example, she enjoys watching classic tv shows like Dick Van Dyke Show and I Love Lucy. Shannon's 3 aunts who help her after she wakes up remind me of the 3 fairies from Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty who raise Briar Rose in the forest. Also like Sleeping Beauty there is an evil hateful woman by the name of Millicent, Shannon's sister in law (her name even sounds like Maleficient!) I give Rise and Shine a solid 5 stars because I connected with the main character and the twist on the modern retelling of Sleeping Beauty makes for a very fun read. I received this book free of charge from Moody Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Cloth Diapering on a Budget

               The whole business of diapering has been something every parent has to deal with. No matter what your family's income level as soon as a baby enters the picture one of the first investments is diapers.  When we had our first child back 5 years ago I didn't even know about using cloth diapers.  None of my friends with small children used cloth diapers and everyone I talked to never mentioned or suggested them. During that time I dreaded the late night runs to the grocery store for diapers or going through so many in one day that I don't have enough for the next day.  Also money back then was pretty tight so we'd always have to shell out or save some from every paycheck just to make sure we could afford diapers when we needed them.  Buying diapers doesn't just end at potty training. Oh no you still have to buy pull-ups or over nights.  I can't even begin to imagine how much money was spent on diapers and pull ups with our first baby.

                By the time baby #2 came around I was ready to try cloth diapering.  Where do I start?  Well there are several blogs and online information about the different types of cloth diapers (and here I thought it was just plain white cloths like what grandma and great grandma used!)  Of course all this information was a bit overwhelming especially when looking at the initial costs of the types of diapers.  I asked myself  "why can't I do it the old fashioned way?" That's when I learned there was fancy terminology for it like flats, prefolds, and covers.  Yeah I'm a complete newbie at this sort of thing!  So today we're a cloth diapering family with an initial cost of about 50 dollars. Yes only 50 bucks total on diapers and covers so far. We have 20 prefolds, 10 receiving blankets that we use as diapers, 4 safety pins, and 4 diaper covers.  We usually have to wash them every other day so the cost of utilities should be considered into the cost of cloth diapering.  I've found that if I add the dirty diapers in with my regular load of towels or other clothes than it saves on how many loads I have to do.

                 Ways to save money by cloth diapering:
  •   Use old washcloths, receiving blankets, and flannel as diapers or wipes
  • Add the dirty diapers to loads of laundry instead of saving them all for 1 or 2 loads of just diapers
  • Air dry the diapers for energy saving costs plus the sunshine is an excellent natural bleaching agent for stains
  • If there is an old wool sweater lying around that you don't use any longer it can be turned into a diaper cover with a little cutting and sewing.
  • Recycle the cloth diapers to use for additional babies or sell them

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

The PassengerThe Passenger by Lisa Lutz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Who is Tanya Dubois and what really happened to her husband? That is the question the reader often wonders while reading The Passenger by Lisa Lutz. The main character who we are introduced to is Tanya but throughout the book she changes her identity so often that the reader has a hard time catching up with her much like the police. Although she did have a run in with the police surprisingly she got away once again. The Passenger is a good thriller that will keep the reader guessing when will she finally get caught in her web of lies. However I found myself getting bored half way through the book and ready to skip to the end that is why I'm giving this story 4 stars. The Passenger is a fun thrilling ride across the country with a not so innocent woman who ultimately tries to flee from her past.

Thank you to the publishers at netgalley for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Veggetti Spiral Vegetable Cutter Review

              For Christmas this year my husband and I decided not to exchange gifts but to spend all the Christmas money on the kids.  So it was to my surprise on Christmas morning when he brought out a gift bag with my name on it.  "I thought we weren't exchanging gifts" I said. He replies back with "I know better than to not get you something for Christmas!" I opened my gift and found it was some kind of kitchen gadget called the Veggetti Spiral Vegetable Cutter.  I vaguely remember seeing an infomercial about it other than that I didn't know quite what it was. I knew it had something to do with vegetables and spaghetti by looking at the package.
           Well a few days later after the festivities from the holidays wind down my husband brings home a couple of packages of zucchini and cucumbers from the grocery store to use on my new gadget.  The veggetti package contains a booklet with instructions on how to use it and recipes for salads and sauces to make with the vegetable noodles.  The veggetti comes in 2 pieces, one is like a lid with spikes for attaching to the end of the vegetable and the main piece is shaped like an hourglass with cutting blades on the inside. It has one end for making thin noodles and the other for thicker noodles. After peeling the zucchini and washing my new kitchen gadget I was ready to try it out.  I found the veggetti very easy to use without any elbow grease! It sliced the zucchini with ease due to the extremely sharp blades on the inside so use caution when turning anything in it.  The small spikey end of the veggetti helps protect your fingers from getting too close to the blades as well as helps get every last bit of the vegetable sliced.

            The booklet that came in the package reads that one can eat the vegetable pasta several different ways: raw, sautéed, or boiled.  I sautéed the zucchini in olive oil with salt and pepper and ate it with my homemade spaghetti meat sauce. I was impressed not only with the flavor but the texture is similar to regular spaghetti pasta.  The flavor of course is different but different in a good way.  I could definitely see myself eating zucchini spaghetti again! Tip: be sure to rinse the veggetti immediately after use so it isn't difficult to clean out later and it's dishwasher safe. The next day I tried making cucumber pasta. However I wasn't as happy with the cucumbers because of how watery they are it turned the pasta into some kind of big green raw mush.  Not very appetizing or appealing for cucumber salad. The Veggetti Spiral Vegetable Cutter is a good alternative to regular pasta but only when using with zucchini or squash.

I received this product as a gift from my husband on Christmas and am in no way being paid money or given any incentives for writing this honest review.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Mudras for Modern Life by Swami Saradananda

Mudras for Modern Life by Swami Saradananda
Mudras for Modern Life: Boost your health, re-energize your life, enhance your yoga and deepen your meditation
This book was very easy to read and navigate through. The introduction was very clear and informative about energy flows (prana) and how to get your body ready for practicing yoga and the hand exercises.  There were pictures for every position with a full explanation for how to position your hand and what each mudra is good for.  The illustrations on the cover and first page of every chapter are beautiful and colorful. I like how the book encourages the reader to try the positions and is written for everyone even those who have never been to a yoga class.

This is a great addition for those like me who enjoy learning yoga and exercises at home through videos and books. However, there is no need for youtube videos to learn mudras with this book. You can practice the positions right as you're reading about them using the thorough descriptions and useful pictures. After practicing some of the mudras incorporated into my yoga exercise I can definitely tell a calmness in me like I am more peaceful yet energetic. I would recommend this book to everyone especially those with emotional distresses although I am not advocating using only the practices in this book in place for medical treatment. I received a complimentary copy for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Isabella's Shield by Kara S. McKenzie

Isabella's Shield by Kara S. McKenzie

I thoroughly enjoyed this story! Very well written and perfect for Christian historical romance fans like me. The setting is the 14th century when the black plague was spreading through Europe. The twin sisters (fraternal) Blysse and Isabella go through trials and tests of faith in order to discover what God has planned for them. In the end I'm left wanting to read how the young Hawise and the reluctant Gawain fell in love!

I received this book as a free ebook downloaded from