Nourished: A Memoir of Food, Faith and Enduring Love by Lia Huber

A noted entrepreneur, food writer, and recipe developer serves up an evocative adventure story abouther quest to find healing, meaning, and a place at the table.

Hunger comes to us in many forms, writes Lia Huber–we long to be satisfied not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. Nourished invites readers on Huber’s world-roaming search to find the necessary ingredients to nurture all three.
She begins her quest with an Anthony Bourdain moment in a Guatemalan village: she’s slipping fresh vegetables into a communal pot of soup she’s cooking up for chronically undernourished children. Village grannies look on disapprovingly… until the kids come back for more.
From there, Huber takes readers to the Greek island of Corfu, where she learns the joys of simple food and the power of unconditional love; to a Costa Rican jungle house (by way of an 8,000-mile road trip), where she finds hope and healing; and finally to California’s wine country, where she steps into the person she was meant to be and discovers her calling to nourish others. – Goodreads

This book made me so hungry, but it was a great read. Lia’s writing is beautiful and descriptive, and drew me in immediately. Food is a way to bring people together, and this memoir detailed the different “kinds” of food Lia needed throughout her life. I did not realize the book would be so spiritual, but it wasn’t over the top and didn’t turn me off from reading it.

At the end of each chapter was a recipe, but the memoir was much more than a cookbook. Also, I haven’t tried any of the recipes…yet.

I loved the central theme behind the book — nourishment. Nourishment is provided in a series of ways, emotionally and physically.

I’m not sure what else to say about this book — it’s definitely worth a read and would make a great gift. Thank you to Blogging for Books for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

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A Well-Crafted Home: Inspiration and 60 Projects for Personalizing Your Space by Janet Crowther

A beautiful, practical book for both aspiring makers and seasoned crafters. Here are 60 projects for high-quality furniture, textiles, and accessories to enjoy all through the house–plus all the techniques you need for dyeing or sewing fabric, cutting leather, antiquing mirrors, working with wood, and much more.

A Well-Crafted Home
 includes simple, creative details that will tailor a space to your taste. More than just -DIY- crafts, these carefully designed projects call for good materials–like linen, leather, and wood–so the finished product will last you a lifetime. Ranging from beginner to more advanced, each item elevates a room in a way you’d never expect: a large-scale painting with an effortless -dot- design looks like a modern piece of art, flax linen bedding sewn with a few easy seams is gorgeous way to set off the bed (and is more affordable than you would think), and a copper pipe rack for hanging clothes is so pretty, you’ll want to keep it on display.
There’s something for every room in this book:

The Entryway: 
Dowel Wall Hooks, Reclaimed Wood Bench, Woven Leather Basket, Soft Planter Cover, Block-Print Pillow, Looped-Tassel Wall Hanging

The Living Room: Dyed Fabric Ottoman, Tassel Wall Banner, Bleach-Dot Lumbar Pillow, Flange-Edge Throw Pillow, Tied Shibori Throw Pillow, Gemstone Box, Air-Dry Clay Bowl, Rolling Trunk Storage, Glass-Cover Pendant Lamp

The Kitchen: Wooden Herb Planter, Rustic Footed Cutting Board, Quilted Cushions, Leather-Loop Tea Towels, Ombre Ceramic Vase

The Dining Room: 
Heirloom Linen Tablecloth, Indigo-Stripe Napkins, Leather Napkin Rings, Clay Candlesticks, Boro Stitched Trivet, Beaded Light Fixture,

The Bedroom: 
Framed Cane Headboard; Linen Bedding with Duvet, Shams, and Pillowcases; Simple Stitch Throw Pillow; Sewn Leather Pillow; Trimmed Waffle-Weave Blanket; Modern Latch-Hook Stool; Dyed Fabric Art in Round Mat; Natural Jute Rug; Painted Ceramic Tray; Acrylic Side Table; Refurbished Table Lamp; Boro Stitched Memory Quilt

The Closet: Copper Garment Rack, Leaning Floor Mirror, Wall Shoe Display, Thread-Wrapped Pendant Light, Liberty Print Hamper, Antiqued Mirror Table

The Bathroom: 
Natural Wood Stump, Oak Tub Tray, Knotted Rope Ladder, Terry-cloth Towels, Leather Wastebasket

The Outdoor Oasis: Simple Sewn Hammock, Painted Wood Stump, Restored-Frame Tray, Ice-Dyed Blanket, Colorwash Sheepskin

With beautiful photographs of rooms styled with all of the projects, A Well-Crafted Home proves that even the smallest touch of handmade can make a house a home.  – Goodreads

I. Love. This. Book.

I was so incredibly excited when I saw this as an option for a review on Blogging For Books (I received a copy in exchange for an honest review). I recently bought a new house and am having a fun time updating rooms and decorating — pretty much everything in this book is my “style”.

The instructions are easy to follow, the photos are gorgeous, and the projects are completely doable for someone who isn’t the handiest or craftiest person on the planet. Each project has the skill level labeled, from beginner to advanced.

If you enjoy DIY projects or things that resemble what is sold at Anthropologie, pick this book up — you won’t regret it. I’m looking forward to working on some projects for my new home.

 

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Morning Glory by Diana Peterfreund

Desperately in need of a job, yet still full of boundless optimism, Becky vows to land on her feet and stumbles into an opportunity at Daybreak, a floundering network morning news program in New York City. Abysmal ratings are only the tip of the iceberg: Executive producers seldom survive beyond the next commercial break, and the outdated cameras belong in the Smithsonian.

Promising the head of the network that she can reverse the downward spiral, Becky makes legendary newscaster Mike Pomeroy an offer he can’t contractually refuse. She successfully adds Pomeroy to the team, but he refuses to participate in any Daybreak fluff pieces and morning show staples like celebrity gossip, weather, fashion, and crafts. What’s more, he takes an instant dislike to his equally difficult co-anchor, Colleen Peck, a former beauty queen.The only bright spot in Becky’s career is Adam Bennett, a gorgeous fellow producer, but Daybreak’s dysfunction spells trouble for their blossoming relationship. As Mike and Colleen’s on-air chemistry proves more explosive every day, Becky must scramble to save her love life, her reputation, her job, and, ultimately, Daybreak itself. – Goodreads

I saw this on sale and thought, why not? I’d recently watching the movie version and was in a rare mood for some fluffy chick lit.

Some background — this was a novelization of the movie. The movie came out in 2010 and starred Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton.

I liked the premise of the story — I wanted to be a journalist in college and am familiar with the news industry. However, Becky fell flat as a main character for me. Becky is tenacious and dedicated to her job — as a result, she’s obsessed with news and her BlackBerry. Becky mentions how her dating life is a flop because she’s so addicted to her BlackBerry. Look, I’m a millenial. I understand being addicted to my phone. Hell, I forgot my phone at home during a short afternoon of errands this week and felt as if I’d lost a limb. HOWEVER, constantly checking your phone on a first date and then getting upset because said date is fed up? Nah, girl.

The other characters also fell flat for me. Adam, the love interest, had potential. Mike was my favorite character — perhaps I was picturing Harrison Ford’s character from the movie, but I thought he was the most dimensional and least annoying. Which is confusing, because his character was supposed to be annoying.

In all, it wasn’t a terrible read. It was light, it was fluffy, it was predictable. Personally, I’d stick to the movie and skip the book. I rated it a 2/5 on Goodreads.

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Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?”  Read the rest of the summary on Goodreads.

Ready for one of those embarrassing, obsessive reviews? Good, because that’s how this one is going to be.

Let me start by explaining how I got my mitts on this book. I had some extra Audible credits and needed to paint my kitchen, so I downloaded this simply because I thought it was Aziz Ansari’s autobiography and I love Aziz, so I figured his narration would be awesome.

Much to my surprise, it was not an autobiography, but a well-researched book on modern dating. I spent eight hours painting my kitchen and didn’t even realize it because I was so sucked into this damn audiobook…even though Aziz kept telling me how damn lazy I was for LISTENING to the book instead of READING it. I was painting, okay?!

The findings and research in the book is lightened up with Aziz’s comedic relief. What I’m trying to say is….it’s hilarious. I enjoyed the humorous touch.

The book goes into texting, online dating, and how different cultures date in modern society. The book also looks at the history of dating (IE, back in the day, most people would meet someone in their ‘hood and get married to escape their parents).

One interesting concept covered in the book had to do with online dating and how it opens up our options. “The world is available to us, but that may be the problem,” said Ansari. Meaning, we have a difficult time settling with one individual because we KNOW how easy it is to shop for the next one or to see what is available at our fingertips.

Another concept addressed in the book is expectations we place on our significant others, which is different now than it was back in the day. We expect our SOs to be our soulmate, our confidant, our best friend, our travel buddy, our therapist, our sexual partner…basically everything. We expect them to give us happiness and give us joy. We rely wholeheartedly on our SO to provide these functions that, in the past, an SO wasn’t expected to provide. Personally, I think this is fascinating — how can you possibly expect one person to provide all of these services? Is it really up to another human to make you happy? I don’t think so. I think we place a lot of expectations on our relationships, which leads to unmet expectations, which often leads to failure. I believe an SO is someone who should complement your life, encourage you to be better and be your teammate. However, I don’t think an SO is your “other half”…I’d prefer to have another “whole” person to spend my life with — with our own respective hobbies, etc. — than a half.

If you’re expecting a humorous book detailing Aziz Ansari/Tom Haverford’s dating escapades, this book is not for you. This book is a sociological study of the evolution of dating…which, by the way, I rate a 5/5 and will be rereading soon.

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Start Where You Are notecards by Meera Lee Patel

I branched out from my typical review request over at Blogging for Books — I got some notecards!

I haven’t read Start Where You Are, but after seeing these beautiful pieces of art, I’ve added it to my list. Each notecard is different and features watercolor art. They include quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr., Amelia Earhart, Henry David Thoreau and CS Lewis. Here are some examples:

  • “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe
  • “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood, and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” – Antoine De Saint Exupery
  • “The world only exists in your eyes. You can make it as big or as small as you want.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

I love them because they’re so easy to pop in the mail and send to someone who needs a pick-me-up. Definitely recommend if you’re in the market for some cute notecards.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.

For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F**k positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.” In his wildly popular Internet blog, Mason doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is—a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected American society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.  – Goodreads

Get ready for a bunch of “self-help” book reviews, people. I’m doing house projects and these type of books are the easiest to listen on audiotape to while doing other activities — I have a tendency to get distracted if I’m listening to fiction.

I’m adding a read more link due to the excessive use of the F-word in the following review. Read more at your discretion.  Continue reading

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The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King

As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her. – Goodreads

Ahhhh. This was one of those reads where everyone seems to love it, but I really didn’t care about it.

For one, the instalove was nauseating. Kalinda lives in seclusion from men for her life, and the first man she sees inevitably turns out to be her love interest within about five minutes. This occurred in the first chapter or two of the book, so I was already annoyed.

I was also annoyed because the first chapter details Kalinda as unattractive, a poor fighter, and generally unremarkable. However, in the first few chapters, she defeats a stronger fighter and is called beautiful by several other characters. What? I’m confused.

Basically the entire book was about girls fighting each other to win over the affections of a dude. I finished it, but I didn’t love it and probably won’t recommend it. 2/5 on Goodreads.

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Wedding Girl by Stacey Ballis

Top pastry chef Sophie Bernstein and her sommelier fiancé were set to have Chicago’s culinary wedding of the year…until the groom eloped with someone else in a very public debacle, leaving Sophie splashed across the tabloids—fifty grand in debt on her dream wedding and one-hundred percent screwed on her dream life. The icing on the cake was when she lost her job and her home…

Laying low, Sophie moves in with her grandmother, Bubbles. That way, she can keep Bubbles and her sweater-wearing pug company and nurse her broken heart. But when Sophie gets a part-time job at the old-fashioned neighborhood bakery, she finds herself up to her elbows in dough and reluctantly giving a wedding cake customer advice on everything from gift bags to guest accommodations. Before she knows it, she’s an online wedding planner. It’s not mousse and macarons, but it pays the bills. But with the arrival of unexpected personal and professional twists, Sophie wonders if she’s really moving forward—or starting over from scratch… – Goodreads

Every once in a while, I get in the mood for a fluffy chick lit novel. This one came across my bargain page, so I picked up up for a couple of bucks on Kindle.

This book fit the bill — it was quite fluffy and full of food descriptions. In fact, the food got to the point of skimming over it. I had the same issue with The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, so perhaps I should avoid food books!

Sophie is alright. She’s hurt after her ex-fiance broke her heart and hijacked their business. She spent an ungodly amount on her wedding and is in serious debt, so she moves in with her grandma, Bubbles…who I picture as Betty White.

Sophie develops her own Ask Alice type of site for wedding consultation. She makes bank. She whines about making bank. She pays off her debt. She whines more about answering questions. Look, I get it — if you’re not pursuing your passion, it’s not worth it. But have some gratitude, Sophie.

It was hella obvious who she would end up with at the end.

I don’t know. It was a light, fluffy read. But I’ve read plenty of light, fluffy books and walked away feeling impressed and happy. This was not the case — I found myself annoyed. Sophie fell flat as an MC, the love interest was boring, and the grandma was more interesting than anyone else. I simply wasn’t into Sophie’s spiral of self-loathing and angst.

Cage of Deceit by Jennifer Anne Davis

Sixteen-year-old Allyssa appears to be the ideal princess of Emperion—she’s beautiful, elegant, and refined. She spends her days locked in a suffocating cage, otherwise known as the royal court. But at night, Allyssa uses her secret persona—that of a vigilante—to hunt down criminals and help her people firsthand.

Unfortunately, her nightly escapades will have to wait because the citizens of Emperion may need saving from something much bigger than common criminals. War is encroaching on their kingdom and in order to protect her people, Allyssa may have to sacrifice her heart. Forced to entertain an alliance through marriage with a handsome prince from a neighboring kingdom, she finds herself feeling even more stifled than before. To make matters worse, the prince has stuck his nosy squire, Jarvik, to watch her every move.

Jarvik is infuriating, bossy and unfortunately, the only person she can turn to when she unveils a heinous plot. Together, the unlikely pair will have to work together to stop an enemy that everyone thought was long gone, one with the power to destroy her family and the people of Emperion. Now the cage Allyssa so longed to break free from might just be the one thing she has to fight to keep intact. In order to save her kingdom, she will have to sacrifice her freedom, her heart, and maybe even her life. – Goodreads

I think I’m part of the minority, but I wasn’t head over heels for this book. I know, I know.

I like Allyssa — she was an alright MC. However, in true YA fantasy fashion, Allyssa is doomed to take part in an arranged marriage, which eats up most of the first half of the book. Though I can obviously understand not WANTING to be forced into an arranged marriage, Allyssa’s apprehensions come off as angsty and whiny, to a point where she deliberately puts her own safety (and that of her friend) at stake to go gallavanting into the night. She’s a badass, she can fight — I will give her that.

The “plot twist” is something you can spot from a mile away. It’s apparent from the moment it shows up and the first clue is given. I won’t delve into it anymore, but I was annoyed at how easy it was to figure out.

Also, side note, since I’m on a rant — I understand the name of the book is Cage of Deceit, but holy shit. If I had a dollar for everytime I read the words ‘gilded cage’ or literally just ‘cage’ in a metaphorical context,  I would have enough money to buy many books.

This was a miss for me, but don’t let my pessimism discourage you — Jennifer is a good writer and I will read other work from her in the future. I rated this a 2/5.

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The Other series by Anne Bishop

As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow. – Goodreads

This…it’s seriously a contender for my top favorite series of 2017. Sure, it’s only June, but still…I loved this series. I read books 1-4, so this review is for the entire series. It’s a little difficult to cover an entire series, so bear with me.

The books are written in third-person, which allows the reader to get a glimpse into everyone’s emotions and views. This was especially handy because each, er, species of individual views humans (or Others) differently.

My favorite part of the entire series were the characters — everyone, no matter how small, was developed well. Though Meg was extremely annoying with her naive nature and almost juvenile ways, it made sense with her upbringing. Throughout the series you can see Meg grow and become stronger. Simon also changed dramatically throughout the entire series.

The underlying romance plot is light and is almost an afterthought. Without giving too much away, I found myself subconsciously BEGGING the author to make some sparks fly or something. PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE.

Anne Bishop is a great writer — I was completely enveloped in the world she had crafted. If you enjoy fantasy fiction, seriously, do yourself a favor and pick this up.

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